Melton named to State Board of Human Services |

Melton named to State Board of Human Services

Beth Melton

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Gov. Jared Polis named Routt County Commissioner Beth Melton to the State Board of Human Services on Wednesday, a Senate-confirmed position.

It is a Type 1 board, the highest tier in authority, which makes rules about Colorado’s Department of Human Services programs.

“It sounds boring, but it is really important rule-making for all of the programs that are under the Department of Human Services, which is pretty critical to the implementation of all the programs,” Melton said.

Melton said human services represent government at its best. She said she wanted to serve on the board because of how important the programs are to people’s lives by providing a social safety net when they need support.

“There were times when I was a kid where my family needed access to human services programs, so it is really close to me to understand how critical that is for people,” Melton said.

The board primarily adopts policies, rules and regulations about administering programs within the Department of Human Services, including those involving foster care and adoption procedures, mental health, alcohol and drug use disorders and developmental disabilities.

The board has three seats designated for county commissioners, and two seats opened up this year when two of the commissioners were term-limited. Melton will fill the seat formerly held by Thomas Davidson, a former Summit County commissioner.

The seat requires confirmation from the Colorado Senate, but members are not currently in session. Because it is a recess appointment, Melton can join the board right away, and confirmation will happen later, though when that will be is unknown. If confirmed, her term would expire in March 2023.

Routt County Commissioner Tim Corrigan said Melton has been active in Counties and Commissioners Acting Together, a group that lobbies for counties on a state level. He said her work there has gotten recognition and the appointment shows the respect she has earned around the state.

“Human services is a really important function of county government,” Corrigan said. “If you look at the wide range of services our human services department distributes, most of those services are funded and are overseen by the State Department of Human Services, which is overseen by the board.”

Melton said she sat in on the board’s January meeting where rules around a program that offers translation services for people deaf and hard of hearing were discussed. Current rules had left just one accredited provider of the service in the state, and the board was weighing how to rewrite rules to maintain the integrity of the program while increasing access.

“When you think about a person who is interacting with the court system who doesn’t have access because they are deaf or hard of hearing and that’s a barrier for them, these things become critically important,” Melton said.

These services have only become more important during the pandemic, Melton said, as it has highlighted how critical having a safety net can be in a crisis.

Corrigan said the county will benefit from Melton being on the board simply because it will be highly informed about these statewide programs that have local impact.

“Certainly she will be in a position to bring forward concerns that are specific to Routt County, but her responsibility is not to Routt County in that position but to the state as a whole,” Corrigan said. “I think the county will benefit from what I expect will be the good judgment that she shows in that role.”

Beyond social safety net programs, the Department of Human Services also administers the Office of Early Childhood and the Office of Behavior Health, two services that are important to Melton.

“When you really think about the impact on an individual’s life and how much (decisions the board makes) could change things for someone to be able to have equitable access, that is where I get really passionate about it — when it comes down to the individual level and how this impacts people’s lives,” Melton said.

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