Help

Our help section provides extra information about finding and using resources. Organized alphabetically by topic and subtopic, this section provides how-to advice, explains something in greater detail, alerts you to scams, and much more.

Family

Child Custody

Every courthouse in Colorado has a self-help center where you can get help with forms and understanding the legal process for custody, modifications to child support, and motions to modify parenting issues. They call this self-represented litigant assistance. They can’t give you legal advice, but they can help you understand the process and tell you where you might get free or low-cost help. Remerg.com will help you find your county’s child support services office.

Courthouses also have family court facilitators to help with custody matters. Facilitators meet with people at the beginning of a case, explain the process, and figure out what the case needs in order to be completed or closed. Facilitators can tell you what papers you need to fill out and what must be done to complete a case. Facilitators may know about different options to resolve your case (example: reaching an agreement or going to trial). Facilitators may talk with you about different processes, like mediation, where you try to reach an agreement with your ex instead of having the judge decide your case. Facilitators can provide information, but they cannot give legal advice. Remerg.com will help you contact your county court’s facilitator.

Child Support

If you have a child support case, you need to contact Child Support Services in the county where your case was filed. Child Support offices are usually located in a county’s department of human services (DHS) office. In a few counties, the Child Support office is located elsewhere. Be sure to call first to verify.

You will need to work with the child support technician assigned to your case. If you don’t know who your technician is, contact the office and tell them you have a case but don’t know who your technician is. It’s possible to ask for a change in the amount you’re required to pay. The process is called a Review and Adjustment. Talk to the technician assigned to your case.

It’s very important that you have open and honest communication with the technician. You also need to make sure they always have your current address.

People tend to have more problems with technicians when they don’t communicate with them.

If you don’t pay your child support, the state can suspend your driver’s license, seize your bank account and tax refunds, place a lien on your property, and more. It’s important for your future that you work toward paying off your child support. If you find yourself completely unable to pay, let the technician know. Explain the details and ask about steps you can take.

Finally, many child support services offices are making an effort to be friendlier and more understanding about working with people coming out of incarceration.

Expectations & Healthy Relationships

Coming out of incarceration, whether jail or prison, is a time of reconnecting with family and friends. If it’s been a long time, the people you’re going back to may not be exactly who they once were. They may have changed, for better or worse, and this will be part of your transition.

For example, roles in a relationship may have changed, kids may have grown up and changed, everyone may have changed. No one, no matter what they experience, is the same person at forty that they were at twenty. We all evolve, and that’s a good thing. Best advice? Manage your expectations of your homecoming. Give yourself and everyone else time to adjust.

Healthy relationships depend on communication, honesty, trust, and respect. Sometimes we’ve never been exposed to what a healthy relationship looks like. Many churches and community organizations offer free classes on family relationships. Look under Parenting Resources in this section and Community Agencies in the Essentials section.

Parenting

Your children can motivate you to succeed upon release. They can be a source of hope and encouragement. They also need you to make it.

Your children are also your responsibility. No matter what the relationship is with the mother or father of the children, you’re responsible for meeting the physical and emotional needs of your children. When it comes to your kids, it’s not about you. It’s about them.

If the relationship with the mother or father is in tatters, you may need to build the relationship back up to the point where you can co-parent. Try looking through the lens of the other parent. Did she or he take care of all of the parenting responsibilities while you were incarcerated? If so, there’s probably a lot of frustration and hurt that manifests itself as anger. You may be dealing with your own issues of shame and guilt. That also may manifest itself as anger.

If you need to build a relationship back to your children after you’re released from incarceration, just remember two things. One, it’s never too late to reconnect, and two, you have what it takes.

Reconnecting & Disconnecting

Starting over after incarceration can be a time to start new friendships. You may find these friends in recovery groups, or faith-based groups, or re-entry groups, or whatever you’re doing that’s positive. Rebuilding after incarceration is all about you. You are your best investment, discovery, venture, and undertaking. Give yourself time to connect with what helps you return, rebuild, and reimagine who you want to be.Connect with what helps you.

Disconnect from what hurts you. Sometimes we need to disconnect from friends, especially when it’s all about them and not about you. Sometimes we even need to disconnect from family members. If someone’s actions are likely to get you back in jail or prison, that’s a good reason to disconnect. If someone is abusing you, that’s a good reason to disconnect. If someone doesn’t want you to succeed, that’s a good reason to disconnect.

Finance

Money Management Information

A budget is a list of what you make (your income) and what you spend (your bills). A budget helps you plan your spending so that you pay for the important things first. It can also help you track where you may be overspending. Budgets don’t have to be complicated. They can be as simple as Expenses on one side of a list and Payments on the other. You’ll find information online about how to make a budget by searching for “sample household budget.”

Check cashing fees are usually a percentage of the amount of the check. For example, a 3% fee for a $1,000 paycheck is $30, which sounds low enough. But if you cash a $1,000 paycheck every two weeks for one year and pay those fees, that’s $720 a year.

Low fee and free bank accounts are available through Bank on Denver and Bank on Boulder. They  have bank and credit union partners throughout the Denver metro area that offer free or low-cost banking accounts, secure credit cards, credit builder loans, and more. Many offer free classes on money management. Their goal is to help people who’ve never had a bank account or had problems with an account in the past.

Credit unions may be another option for a free bank account. For example, Credit Union of Colorado provides a basic checking account that has no monthly fee and a fee-free debit card linked to your account.

Payday lenders cost too much to use. Fees for every $100 borrowed can be as high as $30, and annual percentage rates can go as high as 700%.

Prepaid debit cards are useful for managing money if you don’t have a checking account. Your pay can be directly deposited to a prepaid debit card. You can use a debit card to make purchases and pay bills including C-WISE and restitution payments. Unlike a credit card, you can’t spend more than what you have “loaded” onto the card. Not all prepaid debit cards are alike, so do some research before you get a debit card. Watch for transaction fees and loading fees. Make sure there are ATMs nearby where you can get cash off your card.

Taxes

There are several reasons why you should pay taxes. 1) You may receive a tax credit called the Earned Income Tax Credit. 2) You can’t receive a refund from any taxes withheld from your paychecks unless you file a tax return. 3) You may need your tax return to apply for subsidized housing. 4) You need your tax return to apply for financial aid for college.

Pay Statements & Key Terms

In Colorado, a pay statement (also called a pay stub) should include your name, Social Security number, employer’s name, pay period, gross pay, net pay, withholdings, and deductions. If you’re an independent contractor, your pay stub may not include all of this information.

Gross wages/earnings is the total amount of money you make during a pay period (if you’re paid hourly, the gross amount equals the amount of money you’re paid per hour x the number of hours you worked).

Net pay/earnings is the amount you receive as take-home pay after deductions are taken out.

Pay period is the date from start to end that you’re being paid for.

Rate is the amount of money you earn per hour.

Deductions include the money taken out of a paycheck to pay taxes, health care, retirement, and so on.

Federal income tax is a tax to the Internal Revenue Service for the government. The amount taken out depends upon how many allowances you claimed on your W-4 and whether you’re married or not.

Social Security tax is 6.2% of your gross earnings.

Medicare tax is 1.45% of your gross wages and an additional .09% will be deducted if wages go above $200,000.

State income tax is approximately 4.63% of your gross earnings. Your employer also pays the same amount.

Health & Treatment

Medicaid

Medicaid Nurse Advice Line

If you have Medicaid insurance and need to talk to a nurse, call 800-283-3221. It’s free and they answer calls 24/7 every day of the year. Nurses can answer medical questions and help you decide if you need to see a doctor right away. You can also get other types of medical advice. To learn more, please click here. https://www.healthfirstcolorado.com/benefits-services/#nurse-advice-line

Get Signed Up for Medicaid

The easiest way is to get signed up for Medicaid may be to go to the Department of Human Services (DHS) in the county where you live.  The Social Services section on remerg.com will help you locate your DHS. Be sure to check the Documents You Need section (below) before you go.  FYI: You can get other services at a DHS office such as food assistance, disability, and Workforce Centers.

The fastest way to apply for Medicaid is online through PEAK, but you have to be comfortable doing this on a computer.  To get started, please click here: https://coloradopeak.secure.force.com/

You can also call 800-221-3943 and apply over the phone. This takes about an hour to complete once you reach an operator. Be sure to have your documents ready.

Documents You Need

No matter if you apply in person, on the computer, or on the phone, you’ll need to provide the following information. For more information, please click here. https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/hcpf/colorado-medicaid

  • Name, address, and contact information for person applying
  • Social Security number or document number for lawfully present person
  • Birth date
  • Employer information, including income statement such as a pay stub or W2 form
  • Information about any other income you receive
  • Information and policy number about any other health insurance plan you have
  • Citizenship and identity documentation (state ID, driver’s license, birth certificate

Income Guidelines to Qualify for Medicaid

Medicaid eligibility is determined by the amount of money you make. If you’re single (family size 1) and between the ages of 19 and 65, you can’t make more than $1,385 per month before taxes are taken out.

To learn more about income amounts and whether you qualify, click here. https://www.healthfirstcolorado.com/apply-now/?tab=do-i-qualify

Medicaid Benefits and Co-Pays

This list includes only a few of the benefits and services covered by Medicaid.

  • Mental health
  • Dental services
  • Emergency care
  • Yearly physicals
  • Primary care
  • Hospitalization
  • Maternity care
  • Prescription drugs

Medicaid also has low co-pays (the amount you’re expected to pay). For example, the co-pay for primary care is $2, for labs $1, pharmacies $3, and hospital stays are $10/day (dental and vision vary and are capped at a certain amount so ask for details).

For a full list of services and the amount of co-pay for each, please click here. https://www.healthfirstcolorado.com/benefits-services

Free Transportation to Medicaid Appointments

Sometimes you can get free transportation to and from a medical appointment. Be sure to ask the operator with the Medicaid support program for your county on remerg.com if this is available. Sometimes the rural counties aren’t able to provide transportation, but many counties do. Mileage reimbursement to and from a medical appointment may also be available. Be sure to ask!

Medicaid and Incarceration

People incarcerated in county jails and prisons are not eligible for Medicaid insurance. If you’re covered by Medicaid and become incarcerated, your Medicaid coverage will be suspended.  After your release (no matter if it’s to the community or a halfway house), you’ll need to have your coverage reinstated.

To reinstate your Medicaid coverage, go to your county’s DHS office or call the Medicaid support program (listed on remerg.com in the Medicaid section) for the county where you live.

Updating Medicaid Information

You’re supposed to update contact information and the amount of money you make if you move or your income changes. To report any changes, go to your county’s DHS office, or if you’re using the PEAK system, you can make changes online. To go directly to PEAK, please click here. https://coloradopeak.secure.force.com/

Medicaid coverage is updated every year through a recertification process. To do this, Medicaid needs a mailing address where you can be reached.  This is why it’s important to update your information. You don’t want to let your coverage lapse.

Remember, to report changes, you can also call the Medicaid support program for the county where you live. These are easy to find on remerg.com under Medicaid.

It’s a myth that you automatically have Medicaid for one year after release from prison. Enrollment depends upon your income, not the length of time since you were released from prison or jail.  If your situation changes and you make more money than what you reported when you signed up for Medicaid, you are required to report it.

Health First Colorado Handbook

Health First Colorado has a handbook that answers many questions about Medicaid coverage in Colorado.  To read the handbook, please click here: https://www.healthfirstcolorado.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Health-First-Colorado-Member-Handbook.pdf

Take Care Health Matters

Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition provides a website specifically about taking care of your health if you’ve been involved in the justice system. To go to their website, please click here. https://takecarehealthmatters.org/

Clinics

Basic Info about Community Health Centers

Community health centers offer a full range of medical care, including diagnosing and treating an illness, check-ups, screening tests, family planning, and much more. They provide integrated care, meaning they can help with care for all of your needs, whether it’s a medical need, dental care, mental health counseling, or substance use treatment.

Community health centers will not turn people away because of their inability to pay. Every patient is welcome. They are affordable, will enroll you into any insurance program you’re eligible for, and will accept payment based on what you earn. Almost every health center has staff who are fluent in Spanish. They have pharmacies that provide free or low-cost medications and supplies.

Community Health Center Urgent Care and Convenient Care Clinics

A few community health centers have urgent care clinics. Urgent care clinics treat non-emergency illnesses and injuries that require medical attention, usually after hours or at night, when your regular doctor may not be available. Urgent care clinics also treat things like severe colds, flu, fevers, fractions or sprains, minor cuts, allergies and more.

Several community health centers have convenient care clinics. These clinics are much like an urgent care clinic and treat coughs, colds, low-grade fevers, sore throats, minor injuries, sprains, bruises, aches and pains, minor burns, cuts, insect or animal bites, ear aches, pink eye, minor rashes, minor stomach upsets and/or vomiting, and minor urinary tract infections. Look on the website for the community health center for the county where you live. You’ll find descriptions about these clinics and their addresses and hours.

Private & Hospital-run Urgent Care Clinics

Some hospitals and private companies also provide urgent care clinics (ZipClinic Urgent Care, QwikCareMD Urgent Care Center, AFC Urgent Care, for example). Look on the websites of these urgent care clinics to learn more about services, costs, locations, feedback from customers, etc.

Retail Clinics

Retail clinics are located inside supermarkets, drug stores, and large retailers like Walmart. They treat a limited range of illnesses and don’t require appointments. They can be an affordable option if you have an illness but can’t get into your regular doctor right away, say after hours or over the weekend. Before you spend money on a retail clinic though, check to see if you can get late night or weekend care from a community health center or safety net clinic.

Community Safety Net Clinics

Along with the community health centers, Colorado has safety net clinics in our cities and rural areas. Community safety net clinics are free or charitable and mostly faith-based, or they may be a residency clinic associated with a hospital. Colorado’s 45 rural health clinics are located in rural areas where there’s a shortage of professional health care staff. These clinics can be another option for health care, depending upon where you live.

Emergency Care

Hospital Emergency Rooms

Emergency rooms are for life-threatening illnesses and injuries. Examples include chest pain or difficulty breathing, weakness/numbness on one side, slurred speech, serious burns, head or eye injury, broken bones, dislocated joints, and head or eye injury. If you are experiencing a life-threatening illness or injury, you’ll want to go to the nearest emergency room or call 911.

Hospital emergency rooms are required by law to treat anyone who comes in, regardless of their ability to pay. If you go to an emergency room and don’t have insurance, ask about Colorado’s Indigent Care Program as well as Medicaid. The ER may be able to get you signed up for CICP, a discounted health program, or Medicaid. Hospital emergency rooms can be very expensive if you don’t have insurance.

Health Fairs

9Health fairs provide preventive health education and health screenings across the state. 9Health offers an opportunity for a free or low-cost health screening. You don’t need insurance or an identification document to attend. On their website, you can search for a health fair near you. To get started, please click here. https://www.9healthfair.org/

Housing

Renting Information

A Landlord Can Ask You…

A landlord can ask about your job and income, including how long you’ve been working at your job, your past history as a renter, your credit report, Social Security number, driver’s license, credit card information, contact info for personal references, how many people will be living with you, and whether you have a criminal history. 

However, if a landlord uses the criminal history or credit history to deny renting to you, the landlord may not consider a criminal conviction older than five years except for crimes that require registration as a sex offender, crimes that included possession or distribution of methamphetamine, and crimes related to homicide. In addition, landlords may not use credit and rental history information older than seven years as the basis for denying housing.

A Landlord Can’t Ask You…

A landlord cannot ask about your race, where you were born or where you’re from, your religion or beliefs, your sexual orientation, whether you’re married, whether you have a mental health disability, and whether you have a physical health disability. A landlord also cannot ask about an arrest that does not result in a conviction. 

Application Fees

Many large apartment complexes and property managers require an application and an application fee to pay for the cost of screening a prospective tenant. Landlords may not charge more for this fee than what it costs them and are required to provide information about the fee’s expenses or a receipt of expenses. Landlords are also explain to a prospective tenant his/her reasons for not renting. If an application is not considered, the landlord must refund the application fee.

Before You Rent

Never wire money to hold a place. This could be a scam. Check out a prospective landlord by Googling him or her or looking on Linkedin.

Inspect the place with the landlord before you move in. Note anything you see such as cracks, holes in walls, leaking water, mold, damaged floors/rugs, etc. If you decide to rent the property, you’ll want to make a written note about these items on the lease before signing it. Save this copy for when you move out.

The rule of thumb is to not budget more than 30% of your total income for rent, but that rule is probably not followed by most renters in Colorado. If you have the skills, you may be able to get your rent reduced by helping with upkeep.

Make sure you can afford the utilities. Ask the landlord for a history of this cost. Drafty houses can have huge utility bills in the winter.

Drug Free/ Crime Free Agreement

Some landlords also ask tenants to sign a Drug Free/Crime Free Agreement. Read this form carefully and make sure you understand it. This agreement spells out that your lease can be terminated and you can be evicted if you or your guests engage in drug-related or criminal activity on or near the property. Your landlord can evict you without a criminal conviction for the activity.

Eviction Info

Colorado landlords must now provide ten days’ notice for a tenant to “cure a default” before beginning eviction proceedings. Examples of a default include a tenant not paying rent or violating a condition of the lease. The increase from three days’ notice to ten days’ notice is new in 2019.  The increase to ten days’ notice does not apply to commercial leases, employer-provided housing, or if there’s a “substantial violation” that is endangering other tenants.

Landlords who own five or fewer single-family homes may give five days’ notice, but only if the lease explicitly states the landlord fits this exception.

Colorado Legal Services provides a list of questions and answers about evictions here:  https://lawhelp.coloradolegalservices.org/resource/questions-and-answers-about-eviction

For people who live in Denver, Colorado Legal Services provides free eviction assistance clinics. Click here. https://www.denvergov.org/content/dam/denvergov/Portals/695/documents/Denver%20Eviction%20Legal%20Defense%20Flyer%20(public)%20June%202018.pdf

Finding a Place

The rental market is tight, and landlords may prefer to rent to people without a criminal history, poor credit history, or bad rental history. We explain the restrictions to what a landlord can consider when denying housing in the section on what a landlord can ask.

But let’s also be real. Some landlords will find a way to get around these requirements, so what can you do to increase your odds of finding housing? 

1) Look for property where the landlord has just one or two properties. People who aren’t professional landlords may be more likely to rent to you on a case-by-case basis. Walking a neighborhood to look for signs posted in windows and yards is one way to find these places.

2) Re-entry and justice advocacy organizations sometimes have leads about housing. You’ll find these organizations in the Re-entry section on remerg.com. They may know about property managers who rent to people with a criminal history. 

3) Make a good first impression with a landlord. Arrive on time for your meeting and dress up like you would for a job interview. Be prepared and bring everything you need to fill out a rental agreement (credit report, proof of employment, and contact information for personal references).

4) Landlords want to make sure they get the rent on time, every month of the year. If your rental history is sketchy or your credit history is poor, it may help to offer a larger security deposit than the landlord is asking for. It may also help to explain why you’re going to be a good renter and demonstrate how your income will cover your rent and other expenses.

Lease Info

A rental lease is a contract between the  landlord and the tenant (person renting the property). A lease covers a period of time the landlord agrees to rent the property to the tenant, and the tenant agrees to rent the property from the landlord. Usually the length of time for a lease is six months or one year, but it can be month-to-month.

During the lease time, the information in the lease can’t be changed unless both the landlord and the tenant agree. This means the rent can’t be raised until the lease expires. It also means the tenant is responsible for the rent due through the end of the lease. You can’t move out until a lease ends without “breaking” it. A landlord can sue you for breaking a lease.

A landlord can require you to buy renter’s insurance. This would be in the lease. They can’t, however, require you to buy insurance from or through them.

Make sure you understand everything on your lease before you sign it. Once you sign it, there is no “grace period” to get out of a lease.

If you sign a lease and bring in a roommate, that person should also be on the lease. Only people on a lease are allowed to live at the property.  Make sure you understand the language of your lease regarding visitors. In most cases, if you want someone to stay at your place for a period of time longer than a week, you should let your landlord know. If you’re the only person to sign the lease, you’re the only person legally responsible for the rent.

Miscellaneous Advice

Pay your rent on time or even a few days early. Plan for the time the check is in the mail so that it arrives when the rent is due. Treat the house or apartment like it’s your own. Take care of things when they break if it’s normal wear and tear. Keep the place neat and clean, inside and out.

Be considerate about noise levels with your music, kids, and pets. If your neighbors aren’t happy with you, chances are your landlord will hear from them. Get to know your neighbors. Say hello, help out with small things, let them know they can talk to you if they have a problem with you.

Take care of the little stuff yourself, such as replacing light bulbs and batteries in smoke alarms. For anything else, you should contact your landlord first. If you need something done by the landlord, know what’s in your lease before you ask. If it’s something that’s not an emergency, make a request in writing along with your rent check.

Let your landlord know if something is broken and needs repaired, even if you broke it. Things get worse when they’re not taken care of, especially when it involves water. You may get charged for the repair, but taking responsibility is part of being a good renter.

Don’t get a pet unless that’s in your lease. Most landlords require a separate deposit for pets.

It’s not a good practice to pay rent by cash, but if you do be sure to get a receipt. You can also offer to pay by cashier’s check.

There are certain times a landlord can enter your place without notice, but generally speaking, a landlord can’t enter your place unless there’s an emergency or you’ve given permission. This may be spelled out in your lease, such as a reasonable notice clause that allows a landlord to enter rental property at reasonable times with reasonable notice to the tenant in order to make repairs or inspections. If you think your landlord is entering your apartment for other reasons, we list several organizations in the Renting Information resource section where you can get help.

Save your rental paperwork in a file folder. This way you can always find your lease when you need it. Write your landlord’s name and number on the file folder.

Renter Responsibilities

Aside from paying the rent on time, other responsibilities include keeping the place clean, taking care of the trash, and using electrical and plumbing systems properly. Your lease may describe other responsibilities such as who’s responsible for the yard, shoveling snow, garbage removal, and other details.

About a week before you move in, you’ll need to contact the utility companies to turn on the electricity, water, etc.  The landlord should be able to tell you who to call. To find this information online, type in the name of your city or town and utilities.

Tell your landlord if something’s wrong that could damage the place, such as a rodent or termite problem, a leaky faucet or roof, or a crack that appears in a ceiling or wall.

Don’t forget to let the post office know your new address so your mail gets forwarded. You can do this in person at the post office or online.

If you rent with a roommate, the roommate should sign the same rental agreement. If that roommate moves out, you need to tell the landlord. Any new roommates will be required to go through the same application process you did.

You’re responsible for things you break. The landlord is responsible for fixing things that break through normal wear and tear. When this happens, you have to follow a process. If the landlord won’t fix something, you can’t refuse to pay the rent until the landlord fixes it. This can get you evicted for not paying rent, and you could lose your security deposit. First, review your lease to make sure the landlord’s responsible for the problem. If the landlord’s responsible, make your request in writing. Keep a dated copy and notes about your interactions with the landlord. 

Security Deposit

Most landlords ask for a security deposit, which is usually one month’s rent. Don’t pay a security deposit until you’ve signed the lease. After you move out, if there are no damages, a security deposit must be returned within 30 days unless the lease says otherwise. (The longest time is 60 days.) Some unethical landlords have been known to also ask for a “rent lock” to get around security deposit laws. Watch out for a landlord who asks you for a rent lock. She or he may be someone you don’t want to rent from.

Warranty of Habitability Act of 2008

The Colorado Renter’s Rights and Responsibilities Guide describes the Warranty of Habitability Act of 2008, which gives you legal protection if the place you rent becomes uninhabitable or hazardous. You can learn more in the guide (page 10), which can be opened here.

http://www.caahq.org/clientuploads/Colorado_Renters_Guide.pdf

Supportive Housing

Section 8 Website Scams

The Federal Trade Commission posted a warning several years ago about websites that scam people who are looking for Section 8 housing. They create believable looking websites that look like they’re the real thing. When you contact them, they’ll ask your personal information and ask for a fee, which they keep. Another scam is promising rental housing if you pay the first month’s rent with a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. To learn more, read the full article here. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2015/06/section-8-scammers-cheat-people-seeking-housing

Identification

Birth Certificate: Applying for a Relative

Certified birth certificates may be issued to someone related to the person on the birth certificate. Spouses, parents, adult children, grandparents, siblings, and others are on the list. They will have to provide proof of their relationship to you. For a complete list of who birth certificates may be issued to and the documents they need to prove the relationship, please click here. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Qauj-K6-WsmPPZCa3OOf8wYUQ5t0gp-y/view

Birth Certificate: Born in Another State

If you were born in another state and need to order a birth certificate, do a Google search to find the official state website. First type in the name of the state and “government website.” Look for the website with a name that indicates it’s a state office and ends in gov. For example, Georgia’s website is https://georgia.gov and Missouri’s website is https://www.mo.gov/. Then use the search function on a state’s website to look up Birth Certificate.

Birth Certificate: Documents You Need

You will need at least one “primary” document or two “secondary” documents to order a Colorado birth certificate. A full list is available at this link. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1CHdd8pnVD_VkGU63qYP399AXmHExDX3w/view

Please note a CDOC ID card and Denver and Pueblo County Jail inmate ID are both listed as acceptable primary forms of ID.

Divorce Decree from Another State

If you were divorced in another state and need to order a copy of a divorce decree, do a Google search to find the official state website. First type in the name of the state and “government website.” Look for the website with a name that indicates it’s a state office and ends in gov. For example, Georgia’s website is https://georgia.gov and Missouri’s website is https://www.mo.gov/. Then use the search function on a state’s website to look up Divorce Decree.

Driver’s LIcense/State ID Division of Motor Vehicles Exceptions Process

The  DMV has an exceptions process if you were denied a state ID or driver’s license because you couldn’t provide the necessary documents. For a list of locations that process exceptions, please click here. https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/dmv/exceptions-processing-locations

For information about the process, please click here. https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/dmv/faqs-exception-processing 

For more information about the documents you may need for the process, please click here. https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/DR2469_0.pdf

Marriage License from Another State

If you were married in another state and need to order a copy of a marriage license, do a Google search to find the official state website. First type in the name of the state and “government website.” Look for the website with a name that indicates it’s a state office and ends in gov. For example, Georgia’s website is https://georgia.gov and Missouri’s website is https://www.mo.gov/. Then use the search function on a state’s website to look up Marriage License.

Social Security Card: Documents You’ll Need

When you apply for an original Social Security card, you have to show original documents or certified copies that prove your age, identity, and US citizenship. 

Acceptable documents include a US birth certificate or a US passport, a birth certificate, and a US driver’s license or state  ID. Other documents may also be accepted. Click on the website for more information. https://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/ss5doc.htm

Jobs & Training

Career Planning: My Colorado Journey

My Colorado Journey is a website that will help you explore careers, learn about college admission, take an interest survey, learn about money, and much more. Formerly known as College In Colorado’s Own Your Future, this website lets you create your own career platform for planning your future. To get started, please click here: https://www.mycoloradojourney.com/journey?

Collateral Consequences

A criminal record can have many consequences. A  guide prepared by the CO State Public Defender’s Office in 2014, The Consequences of Conviction: Sanctions Beyond the Sentence Under Colorado Law, explains all of the laws that create barriers for people with a criminal record. The employment section is on pages 12-15. Read through this for an overview. There’s also a list of jobs with employment-related statutes in the Appendix, which starts on page 51. Scroll through the list to see if the career you’re considering is on this list. The guide doesn’t include internal hiring policies for agencies, so it’s not a complete list of every barrier. However, it’s the best place to start to learn more. Also, be aware the guide was updated in 2014, so any laws passed since then aren’t in the guide.To see the guide, please click here. http://www.coloradodefenders.us/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/consequences-of-conviction.pdf

Criminal Background Reports

You should know what’s on your background report. Be prepared to discuss what’s on the report with an employer or during an interview. Be ready to explain all arrests and convictions. Sometimes there are several listings of the same arrest. Look at the charge date to help sort this out. If an arrest did not lead to a conviction, you may need to explain whether the charge was dropped, reduced, or you were found not guilty. If the information on your background report is inaccurate, CBI can tell you how to correct it at 303-239-4208. When you call, you’ll need to have the report in front of you. 

If you have a Mastercard or Visa, it’s easy to order a copy online through the CBI website. You need to click on Individual and then fill out the first and last name and date of birth. The Social Security number is usually not necessary, unless it’s a common name. To get started, please click here. https://www.cbirecordscheck.com/

You may also order a copy of a name-based background check in person at 690 Kipling Street in Lakewood. (CBI is in the building farthest from the ReMax building and has flags out front.) Hours are 7:30am – 5pm, Monday through Friday. Cash is accepted at the Lakewood office. The cost is $6.85. You may also order by phone at 303-239-4208. You’ll need a Mastercard or Visa for the $6.85 fee.

You may also order a copy through the mail. The forms for the application and payment can be downloaded from the CBI website and printed off. The forms are a little buried in the website, but should be on the Fees and Forms page. The cost is $13. Be sure to follow the directions about payment. They do not accept personal checks. To get started, please click here.  www.cbirecordscheck.com. If you need help, call 303-239-4208.

Jails to Jobs

Jails to Jobs is a website that helps people with a criminal record find a job. The website is packed with articles and advice about job hunting. To get started, please click here. https://jailstojobs.org/

Looking Good

Think about how your appearance affects the first ten seconds you have with the person interviewing you. That’s when most people form a first impression. You should dress up a notch or two for the job you’re interviewing for. For example, if you’re going to be doing something that doesn’t require a nice shirt and pants for the job, you would still wear that for the interview. Dressing up demonstrates respect for the company and that you’re willing to  put forth effort.

You might be able to get a free or low-cost haircut at a training studio. For example, Supercuts Training Studio in Arvada offers free haircuts several times a month for their staff in training. You can learn more on their Facebook page at Free Haircuts Arvada. The Emily Griffith Hair Salon in downtown Denver offers very low cost cuts and color treatments. Look in Essentials on remerg.com for places to get professional clothing. 

Depending on the job you’re applying for, tattoos on your hands, face, or neck may keep you from being hired. If you want to have a tattoo removed, ask your parole or probation officer if there are funds to help pay for the removal. There are companies that specialize in tattoo removal, with a few that are low in cost. Google “low cost tattoo removal near me” for a list of companies near you. Call for costs. Many offer a free first consultation.

Finally, consider getting a physical and taking care of your health needs, including dental care, especially if you have Medicaid coverage. There are several reasons for this. 1) Your health makes a difference in how you present to an employer. 2) Your health makes a difference in your job performance. 3) Once you get a job, you may start making too much money to qualify for Medicaid coverage, so use it before you lose it.

Professional Licenses

Many jobs require a professional license. In order to apply for a professional license, you must apply to a specific licensing board. These boards are under the direction of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, called DORA. On the DORA website under What We Regulate, they provide a list of all of the licensing boards. You’ll be able to click on the home page and contact info for a specific licensing board from that page in order to learn more. You can also call DORA at 303-894-7800 to ask about a specific licensing board. Be sure to research a specific license before you invest any time or money into professional training.

Depending upon your situation and the board, you may be allowed to get a professional license. Start by reading through the application documents on the licensing board’s web page. Look through all of the documents that concern an application. For example, on the Office of Barber and Cosmetology web page, we found two links, one titled Licensure and the other titled Forms. If you click on Forms, you’ll find a document titled Felony Conviction & Monitoring Information. This document is what you use to explain your background to the licensing board. To get started, please click here. https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/dora/node/96181

If you’re looking into a professional license, don’t rely on rumor or a friend’s experience. When it comes to a criminal record, most boards look at applicants on a case-by-case basis. They’ll consider the offense, length of time passed, and evidence of your rehabilitation. Also, since there’s a separate board for each type of professional license with different people on each board, some boards may be more open than others and even recognize the value of your personal experience.

Talking about a Criminal History

You have to own your background in order to talk about it. If you don’t, people sense you’re not taking responsibility and won’t take a chance on you. It’s important that you come across as honest, forthright, and sincere. Give a strong handshake, make eye contact, and act confident and comfortable in your skin.

Some people say to break the explanation about your criminal history into three parts. The first is an explanation about why you were incarcerated. Keep it brief–-don’t go into detail–-but an employer will want to know what happened. For example, if it was robbery, don’t go into the details. Just admit you got into trouble and talk about how it hurt your life. Don’t talk as if you feel sorry for yourself or deny your past. Be honest and sincere. Show remorse. The next step is to explain what you’ve accomplished, done well, and the changes you’ve made. For example, you may have earned your GED, reconnected with your family, or gone through a course or training. Finally, pivot to describe how you will be a great employee and an asset to the company if given the chance. Employers want to know if you’re going to be diligent, loyal, and hard working. That is the main point you want to make in an interview.

The Denver Public Library has a page of great advice on how to talk about your background. To read this, please click here: https://www.denverlibrary.org/how-respond-felony-question

70 Million Resources

70 Million Resources is a national website that helps people with a criminal record search for a job by providing a national database of open jobs. Click here for the website: https://www.70millionjobs.com/

Parole & Probation

Administrative Regulations for Parole

If you have any questions about any process that has to do with adult parole, start by reading the administrative regulation for that topic. These are posted on the CDOC website under Departmental Information and then under Policies. Adult Parole AR’s start with the number 250. Click on that number and a drop-down menu of all adult parole AR’s will appear. Read about early release (AR 250-29), travel permits (AR 250-16), the Sure and Swift Program (AR 250-76), and much more. To go to the web page, please click here. https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdoc/policies-1

Parole & C-WISE

C-WISE is a database used by the Colorado Department of Corrections to track your supervision. It’s also a 24-hour call center. The C-WISE number is 1-800-426-9143.

C-WISE is used to communicate with your parole officer. Ask your parole officer how often you need to call C-WISE. If you’re in a halfway house, check with your parole liaison officer as to how often you need to call C-WISE.

Parole Agreement

Your parole agreement is issued before you’re released. The agreement will be explained during the first meeting with your parole officer, and your parole officer may add additional conditions. Make sure you ask about anything you don’t understand. You need to know and follow the conditions of your parole agreement. Keep your copy in a safe place. If you lose it, ask for a replacement. 

The key to being successful while you’re on parole is to check with your parole officer about everything. Don’t listen to the rumors you hear or another guy’s opinion about what’s expected of you. To be sure about everything, ask your PO.

GO Guide Info on Parole

Getting On After Getting Out: A Reentry Guide for Colorado, is produced by CCJRC. In the guide, you will find a chapter with advice on what to expect while on parole. You can call CCJRC at 303-825-0122 and order a copy. The fifth edition was released in the fall of 2019.

Probation Information

The courts in Colorado use probation as a sentencing option for criminal offenses. From the state’s perspective, probation is an alternative to prison or jail and a privilege, not a right. A sentence of probation may be overseen by the district’s probation division (also known as state probation) or a private probation company. A person sentenced to state probation may also receive a sentence to an intensive program, depending upon the circumstances. 

Each district in Colorado is free to develop its probation program within limits set by law and standards. This factor, as well as the different types of probation, may explain why probation varies from district to district. This may also explain why the responses to technical and criminal violations are not always the same. There are many variables with probation sentences. If you have questions, check with your probation officer.

Conditions of Probation

There are up to 19 standard conditions of probation in Colorado. Some conditions are required by law, while others, such as treatment and restitution, are related to the specific crime and circumstances. You must follow the conditions of probation to the letter. This document is a legal document and failure to follow conditions can result in incarceration.  

If you lose your copy of the conditions, be sure to ask for a replacement, even if you’re afraid it will annoy your probation officer. Explain how you lost the copy and that you don’t want to get into trouble but you need a copy.

Probation & Substance Use Treatment

Your probation officer will try to match you to the right treatment provider in your community. It’s important that you and your probation officer have good communication. The more your probation officer understands your needs, ideally, the better the officer will be able to match you to the right treatment for you. If funding is available, your probation officer may also be able to get help with funding for your treatment. 

Your relationship with a treatment provider is a critical relationship. If it’s not a  good match, let your probation officer know. Be prepared to specifically discuss why the relationship isn’t working (not liking a provider isn’t very specific). After this discussion, if you can’t figure out a way to make the relationship work, you can ask your probation officer about working with a different treatment provider.

Probation Early Termination

To be eligible for early termination of probation (in most cases) you need to have completed half of your sentence and all of the terms and conditions of your sentence, including paying all fines, fees, and restitution. You should know this process is totally discretionary and may vary by district and judge. Talk to your probation officer to find out the process in your district and what you need to do. 

The process usually involves applying to the court that sentenced you to probation. Your probation officer may initiate the process or you can consult with an attorney to initiate the process on your behalf. The judge will rely on input from various parties to the case (e.g., victim, district and defense attorneys). The probation officer’s recommendation will also impact the judge’s decision. 

It should not cost you anything to apply for early termination. There’s a rumor that it costs $150 to file, but this is not true.You cannot get earned time while on probation—that’s also a myth.

Re-entry

Contacting Parole or Probation Supervision

You’re expected to contact your supervising authority immediately. During this meeting, make sure you ask questions about anything you don’t understand about  your contract of probation or parole conditions. Many people go to prison or back to prison due to a technical violation of a probation or parole contract. Some people who’ve been incarcerated advise you to consider that you “belong to the state” until you end that contract. They also advise you to avoid thinking you can get away with breaking a condition of parole or probation, which is what some people do. If you are tempted, their advice is to recall how hard it was to get out of incarceration.

The CWISE number is 800-426-9143. Parole and probation office addresses and numbers are listed in the Parole & Probation section on Remerg.com. Be sure to go through the orientation offered by parole’s Community Re-entry Center in Denver at 940 Broadway if you’re in Denver. They may have additional resources available for you.

Food, Clothing, & Other Essentials

Check out the Essentials section on Remerg.com for places where you can get help with food banks, pantries, meals, clothing banks, and more. In some cities in Colorado, there’s a fair amount of help available. Be sure you check out the Remerg.com list.

Getting a Job

The Jobs & Training section on Remerg.com describes many places that will connect you to a job, whether it’s your first “survival” job or the career path you’ve been dreaming of. We list employment (temp) agencies that work with people with a criminal history on a case-by-case basis, apprenticeship programs, background friendly companies that hire on a case-by-case basis, and state agencies such as Workforce Centers and Vocational Rehabilitation offices. We also have a huge list of community agencies that will help you prepare for the job search, brush up on or learn new skills, and connect to a career. Almost everything we list is free to you.

Housing

We won’t lie. Finding housing can be one of the hardest parts about re-entry, especially if you’ve been in prison for a long time. Our Housing section lists transitional housing such as sober living houses and other shared living places. We also provide information on getting into supportive housing as well as advice and resources for renters.

However, we do not have a list of places where you can rent. We wish we did. Many people find housing through their networks and word-of-mouth, referrals from re-entry organizations, or just driving through a neighborhood looking for “For Rent” signs. Homes with rental apartments in them can often be a better opportunity than large apartment complexes.

Human Services Offices

Signing up for benefits at a Department of Human Services (DHS) office should be one of the first things you do. DHS offices provide many different programs that you may be eligible for, including utility help, food assistance, child support, Medicaid, job searching, old age pension, and more. To learn more about these programs, please click here: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdhs/benefits-assistance

If You're in Crisis

If you hit a point where you’re in crisis, you need to know who or where you’re going to call. This is why we recommend you build a network with a re-entry organization right away. This number could be one of the first you call. Hotlines like Colorado Crisis Services are also an option. You’ll find several listed on the green Crisis Hotlines tab at the top right on Remerg.com. Other places to call, such as Advocates for Recovery, are in the Health section under Mental Health & Substance Use Treatment.

Re-entry Organizations

Connecting with a re-entry organization is one of the best steps you can take. In fact, having the mindset to ask for help and being willing to do so is one of the reasons people don’t go back. Many re-entry organizations function as a one-stop shop where you can get job training/placement, clothing, a phone, help getting ID docs and low-cost bus passes, other resources, and referrals to other agencies.

Re-entry organizations usually include formerly incarcerated people who understand re-entry from personal experience. Take time to look through Remerg.com’s Re-entry list, make a few calls to ask about orientation times, and find a place that feels right for you. You may also want to visit several different agencies to take advantage of the different kinds of help. The more people you network with, the more help you’ll get. Don’t forget to ask for help from parole and community re-entry specialists, or from probation offices.

We provide a list of statewide and national justice organizations in the Re-entry Help section on Remerg.com. These organizations can also be a source of re-entry information via websites or at personal meetings where you can connect with others. Please consider joining and supporting justice organizations.

People & Places that Support You

Who you reconnect with and where you go back to will have an influence on whether you succeed. Re-entry organizations are a great first place. They may offer mentoring, peer groups, or provide recommendations about churches, mosques, and other places of worship. If you’ve burned all of your bridges, a faith-based community may still be there for you when your friends and family members have given up.

Libraries provide free access to computers, classes, a place to rest in peace, and much more. Some even have community resource navigators. Community recreation centers provide gyms, yoga and spin classes, and showers. Places like The Phoenix provide sober active communities. Check out Health Resources in the Health section on Remerg.com for more information and connections to these resources.

Your Physical & Mental Health

Your health should be a priority when you’re starting over. This is why we recommend you make an appointment before you get sick. If you have Medicaid insurance, start in Health and click Medicaid. All you need to do is to look for the agency that covers the county where you live and call the number we list. Their customer service will help you find a doctor, a dentist, substance use treatment, mental health therapy, and more. Medicaid covers a surprising amount of services.

If you don’t have Medicaid, be sure to see if you qualify when you go to your county’s Department of Human Services office. They will sign you up.

If you don’t have Medicaid insurance, start in the Clinics section. You’ll find instructions on how to find a low-cost clinic in Colorado in this section.

Sex Offenses

Housing

Housing for people with a sex offense conviction can be very difficult to find. We suggest that you connect with one of the re-entry organizations that is part of the WAGEES grant program, listed in the Re-entry section on remerg.com. These organizations may have resources or options. You can also try contacting one of the Colorado-based advocacy organizations and ask about their housing information.

We’ll be looking for organizations and people who are “gatekeepers” of housing information to add to remerg.com. Please check back.

Scams

Women Against Registry distributed a letter they received from a member who had been contacted by someone claiming to be a police officer. The letter reads: “On Sept. 30 I received a call from someone claiming to be a police officer saying that I was now non-compliant and would be arrested if I didn’t bring $3500 to the county courthouse to post bail. He went on to say I had been sent a registered letter and had signed for it and had missed a court appointed hearing date. This was all a scam, which I got sucked into because I knew people who have been arrested, without warning for similar circumstances. It was also made possible because the registry is ‘public.’ These scammers had access to that information. I nearly went through with the scam and spent over an hour on the phone with this guy because he said I had to stay on the phone with him until I reached the courthouse. I thought that was very odd, but I complied, not wanting to be arrested. I finally realized it was a scam when he told me I had to convert cash into electronic cards. When I finally realized that the cards, he was talking about were “GIFT” Cards, I hung up and called my registry office. I was glad that the officer picked up immediately and I told him what had just happened. He told me it was definitely a scam and that there were no warrants on me.”

Social Services

Appealing a DHS Decision

If you’re turned down for assistance by a Department of Human Services (DHS) office and you think the department made a mistake, you can ask for an appeal. It’s called a Fair Hearing. Ask the department to tell you in writing how to make this appeal. If you were sanctioned by a program such as Employment First or TANF (also called Colorado Works), ask the department if you can apply for a lift of the sanction.

Documents to Bring to DHS

You’ll be asked to provide several types of documents when you apply for benefits at a Department of Human Services (DHS) office. You should check with your county’s DHS office for what they require from you to apply for a specific program. Some examples of what they may ask for include:

  • Full names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers for the people applying for benefits
  • Verify your identity using a driver’s license or state ID, birth certificate, or another document such as a work or school ID
  • Legal Permanent Resident Card or I-94 if an immigrant
  • If someone in the home is pregnant, the due date and number of babies for that pregnancy (you may also be asked to verify the pregnancy with a note from a doctor)
  • If you pay for someone’s care, such as daycare for your children, who provides that care and how much you pay for it
  • Pay stubs for anyone working in your home, including how much each person makes at his/her job, how often he/she is paid, and how many hours he/she works
  • If someone in the home is self-employed, you’ll need last year’s tax return for his/her self-employment (if he/she filed taxes for the business) or at least try to gather information about his/her income and expenses for the business
  • If you’re applying for SNAP, you will be asked about the total amount of money you have at home and in your checking and savings accounts
  • If you get benefits, such as Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or Child Support, you may be asked to bring your benefit check stubs or award letters for types of income and tell when these benefits started, how much and how often received
  • If you’re paying for housing, you’ll be asked how much you pay each month for housing (examples: rent, lot rent, mortgage, property taxes, or homeowner’s insurance)
  • You’ll also be asked how much you pay each month for utilities (examples: electricity, gas, phone, water, and trash removal)

Eligibility for Human Services

Both U.S. citizens and legal non-citizens are eligible to apply for help at a Department of Human Services (DHS) office. If you’re not sure, ask during the screening interview. Many non-citizens are eligible for programs such as food assistance through their children or length of time in the country. Be sure to ask. Non-citizens may also be eligible for emergency medical services. Human Services offices do not contact ICE.

If you were convicted for a drug-related felony on or after July 1, 1997, you may not be eligible for certain programs unless you can demonstrate rehabilitation. An example of this would be taking a substance abuse class. Ask for more information if you have a drug-related felony from after July 1997.

Types of Benefits

DHS offices provide many different programs that you may be eligible for, including utility help, food assistance, refugee service, child support, Medicaid, job searching, old age pension, and more. To learn more about these programs, please click here: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdhs/benefits-assistance