Community Connections: Routt County Department of Human Services
The mission of Routt County Department of Human Services is to strengthen families and individuals and to promote safety and self-sufficiency. The DHS mission is intrinsically intertwined with Routt County’s mission. Families and individuals are the foundation of our present and future community.
So what is going on in that little stucco building on Sixth Street behind the Old Town Pub?
The Routt County Department of Human Services administers 40-plus federal, state and county programs while providing social services to the population of Routt County. There are four primary divisions: 1. Self-sufficiency; 2. Children, youth and families; 3. Child support services; and 4. Early childhood care and education through First Impressions.
We are here to provide safety net services and benefits while people get back on their feet. Ultimately, we work to empower people to gain the skills and resources that they need to be self-sufficient and live well.
During this past year, DHS has experienced unprecedented numbers of people in need of medical insurance and food assistance. We are currently serving more than 3,000 people with Medicaid health insurance and 560 families with food assistance. Routt County continues to wait for recovery from our recent Great Recession. Public assistance programs require the completion of applications, collection of verifying documentation, interviews and the processing of a case, all of which are scrutinized through volumes of rules and regulations that we are required to follow.
Human Services’ staff understands that it is not easy to come into the department to ask for help. We also understand that the processes and communications can be confusing. All of this can cause frustrations and emotions that are not typical for our customers. Our goal is to work together to get benefits to those in need as quickly as possible.
Last year, DHS received more than 230 referrals of child abuse or neglect and more than 30 referrals of adult abuse or neglect. We are required by law to investigate or assess all referrals. Our goal is to keep all of our children and at-risk adults safe. We do not do this alone; we do it in cooperation with many local agencies and the court system. Oftentimes, families are simply in need of resources to help deal with the stresses that are causing strain on their family system.
Child support services is helping almost 500 families to receive child support. Last year, approximately $2 million dollars was collected for the children of Routt County. It is so important that mothers and fathers have the opportunity to contribute to the care of their children.
First Impressions of Routt County is overseen by an Early Childhood Council that helps support the systems and organizations serving our youngest citizens, birth to age 5. They work to assure that our children are cared for in high quality learning environments. They help early childhood providers to attend higher education courses, purchase quality curriculums and upgrade their classroom settings. Last year, they aided 157 families/189 children with $327,000 in scholarship funding to help with their early learning child care.
There are many reasons why a person or family can fall on hard times. We recognize that there are hard-working individuals and families who are struggling to make ends meet.
While we are here to help folks through crisis, we are putting more and more energy toward prevention efforts with our health and human services partner agencies. The Routt County Bridges Initiative is at the forefront of those efforts. The Fatherhood Program of Routt County acknowledges the unique challenges that dads have with their kids. Workforce-focused efforts have been prioritized for Colorado Works. Parenting classes and family activities are being supported through child welfare initiatives to strengthen families.
So in a nutshell, there is a lot going on at 135 Sixth St., the Routt County Department of Human Services. Come and see us, or call 970-870-5533 if you think that there is something we can help you with.
Vickie Clark is a social worker with 20 years of health and human services experience. Her roots began in hospice and home health care and then stemmed into adult services with the Mesa County Department of Human Services in 1995. Her MSW was received from Colorado State University. After 13 years of supervising long-term care, disability and adult protective services, Clark was called to Steamboat Springs to become the director for the Routt County Department of Human Services in 2008, where her career has been diversified to include the whole gamut of human services.
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