By Randi Pierce
Nearly $164,000 in contracts for programs and $15,000 in contracts for staff training were approved for the Department of Human Services at the Oct. 2 Board of County Commissioners meeting.
The program contracts renewed at the meeting were a result of the start of a new federal fiscal year on Oct. 1, with much of the funding for the programs coming from the federal and state levels.
The first of the contracts renewed at the meeting is with The Training Advantage, in the amount of $54,067 to provide an Employment First case manager and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program data entry technician.
According to DHS Director Erlinda Gonzalez, the department has provided the Employment First program since 1991 and was one of the first in the state to offer it.
Under the program, people with food assistance who meet certain criteria are referred to The Training Advantage for help in finding part-time or full-time employment, with the goal of that individual becoming self-sufficient, Gonzalez explained.
Then, for each person who obtains employment through the program, the county’s DHS receives additional funding, which Gonzalez said is dedicated to further grow the program.
The second of the contracts is with Archuleta School District 50 Jt. to provide a Core Services Day Treatment Program within the middle school, with the contract in the amount of $79,761.
That amount is less than the county has received for the program in the past, due to a change is the state’s funding formula, Gonzalez said.
Archuleta County was, however, one of the first counties in the state to offer the program, which is the most intensive program a school can have in Colorado, Gonzalez said.
Under the program, students in the school with therapeutic or behavioral problems are assessed and put into the program, which works with the students and their family on the issues causing the problems.
Gonzalez said some students remain in the program for months, while others take part for longer periods of time. The program can treat 10 students at a time; the local program averages 15 or 16 students per school year.
The third of the contracts approved is a partnership with Archuleta County Victim Assistance Program in the amount of $30,000.
The contract will provide funding for the Youth Violence Prevention Education Program, as well as helping ACVAP assist in developing domestic violence response policies and coordinating with DHS on mutual domestic violence and child protection cases.
Additionally, under the prior contract with ACVAP, several other programs were initiated, such as Girls on the Run, which expanded to the middle school this year.
At the meeting, Gonzalez and ACVAP Director Carmen Hubbs noted that the collaboration between the two entities and the resulting programs have become statewide models, with Hubbs speaking at various conferences.
“The collaboration has been great,” Gonzalez said, adding, “I’m very proud.”
Gonzalez said Archuleta County is considered a small county by the state, but she strives to provide as many programs and resources as possible for the community.
“I really feel this department has a nice, a great relationship with all the different entities in the community,” Gonzalez said.
The final contract approved at the meeting is a contract with Dorothy Ackerman for $15,000 to provide training in the department’s financial systems for the department’s new accountant.
“The accounting process is very … messy,” Gonzalez said in an interview, with multiple systems used and a varied funding structure.
In addition, the department runs on multiple fiscal years relative to the federal, state and of local funding it receives.