By the numbers
The Moffat County Commission approved a total of $762,975 in Colorado Works grants for the following 13 agencies:
• Work and Life Skills Program Coalition, $171,250
• Workforce Center/CNCC/MCSD, $105,000
• CNCC/MCSD, $88,300
• Visiting Nurse Association, $80,000
• Boys & Girls Club of Craig, $75,000
• MCSD, $60,000
• Independent Life Center, $51,851
• Advocates-Crisis Support Services, $37,400
• A&S Counseling, $35,480
• Grand Futures Prevention Coalition, $24,660
• Younglife, $22,500
• Craig Mental Health, $8,500
• Yampa Valley Pregnancy Center, $3,034
When it became known that Moffat County Social Services had nearly $700,000 it wanted to give away, local organizations got busy submitting applications for the money.
There was only so much money, officials said, and no one would be guaranteed anything.
There needn't have been any worry, however, as the Moffat County Commission approved every request made by 13 local organizations - a total of $762,975 - and in doing so spent more than it had to.
The money came from Moffat County Social Services funds for Colorado Works, the state's welfare program.
The Colorado Legislature changed Colorado Works funding parameters this year to limit the amount of money local Social Services offices could roll over in reserves from one year to the next.
Moffat County Social Services has been saving welfare program dollars since welfare reform in 1997 and had about $1 million in the bank. After this year, however, it will only be allowed to keep $278,000 in reserves, with any money more than the limit reverting to the state.
Hence the reason county officials said they had to spend most of what was in the fund.
County Social Services Director Marie Peer said there was about $699,000 in reserve that could be spent before the commission dipped into money available for 2009.
In approving every request, the commission agreed to spend $63,975 that will come out of next year's reserves.
Commissioner Tom Gray said he wasn't concerned with depleting the fund because there still would be about $155,000 left, and another $30,000 or so will come in before the end of the year.
"I thought it was better to take a small chance with the fund than to not take advantage of the dollars we have now and the programs people put together," he said.
Commissioner Tom Mathers agreed, saying the plans put forth were "great" opportunities for Moffat County.
The four largest requests add up to about 58 percent of the total amount awarded across the community. They focus mainly on improving people's employability and helping residents start families responsibly.
Work and life skills
After a recent community forum, Darcy Trask learned that several local business owners are concerned about local youth trying to enter the workforce.
Trask, Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership director, decided her group and others in the community could do something to help prepare youths entering the workforce and adulthood.
EDP partnered with Moffat County School District, Colorado Workforce Center, Colorado Northwestern Community College, Craig Chamber of Commerce and Anson Excavation & Pipe to apply for $171,250 to hold a one-year, work- and life-skills program for students from eighth to 12th grade.
The program will attempt to teach youths about good decision-making, positive values and preventing out-of-wedlock pregnancies during an extra-curricular, after-school program.
As an incentive to draw students into the program and have them complete the course and show an understanding of the material, those who complete the curriculum will receive a personal laptop.
Trask told the commission it's not about the computer, though it will help with students' transition to college.
"The incentive will get them into class," she said. "The benefit is what they gain from class."
This program also addresses concerns about residents' employability but will apply to adults eligible for Colorado Works dollars only.
To tackle fears from employers about workers' reading and math skills, the three groups will partner to provide assessment tests to prospective workers and, with a person's permission, allow employers to see results.
If someone finds they are deficient in one or all areas, they may access free online training courses to help them develop skills that will allow them access to better jobs.
The commission granted $105,000 for the program.
Both educational institutions recognize a somewhat veiled problem in Moffat County, Peer said.
"This is kind of a hidden problem, but there are a number of adults who have difficulty with reading and comprehension," she said.
CNCC and the School District requested $88,300 for a new kind of program to address the issue, one that has proven results in other communities, the Social Services director told the Commission.
Read Right intends to use a methodology that reworks the way a person learns how to read. It was originally implemented in a Washington state sawmill business, then in other companies, such as Boeing.
Grant dollars will pay for tutors to train Moffat County instructors and course materials. The program also will include information geared toward preventing out-of-wedlock pregnancies and the formation of two-parent households.
Northwest Colo. VNA
The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association requested $80,000 to expand a family counseling program for women and couples.
The VNA provides nonmedical help to those considering when is the best time to start a family. Peer said the clinic sees "numbers and numbers" of people come in for such services each year.
The program typically operates with a $45,000 budget, so the Colorado Works grant will nearly double its funding.
Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or email@example.com