Local human services groups form alliance

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At its Tuesday meeting, the Moffat County Commission:

• Approved waiving Moffat County Fairgrounds rental fees for the 2009 Colorado State Taxidermy Championships, held June 4 to 6. The Colorado Taxidermist Association is a nonprofit group, and so fell under the county's normal guidelines of waiving fees. The event brought about 50 outside competitors and families to Craig in 2008.

• Tabled awarding a bid for a remodel project at the Public Safety Center because the single bid received totaled $38,000, roughly $13,000 more than Sheriff Tim Jantz said he was led to believe the project would cost. Jantz wants to remodel a cell room currently used as a library to hold eight beds. Library books would be moved to the jail's programs room. The extra bed space would be used as overflow space and a segregation room for inmates who can't be held in general population.

• Agreed to match $3,000 for a $6,000 Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant, awarded through the Colorado State Forest Service. The money will go toward personal protective gear, tools and radios. The Commission also agreed to approve a supplemental budget request to pay for a broken water pump and overtime wages for firefighters.

Human services groups, such as Moffat County Social Services, can do a better job of working together to overcome community issues, Marie Peer said.

A state-sponsored "collaborative management program" may help local organizations work together and would reward them with additional funding if they prove successful.

Peer, Moffat County Social Services director, said she is approaching installation collaborative management with a mix of excitement and awareness.

She wants the program to become more than "another meeting," she said, despite its unmoving title.

The Moffat County Commission gave Social Services the green light to pursue the program, which sets up an oversight group made up of local and state organizations to direct goals and objectives for Moffat County.

"We don't need one more meeting," Peer said. "That's the key, to make this something that really impacts people's lives and does good for the community."

In Moffat County, Social Services plans to partner with Moffat County School District, the 14th Judicial District, the County Probation Department, Craig Mental Health, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the state Division of Youth Corrections.

In theory, the program allows each group to enhance their services by sharing resources, such as staffing and money.

The group has identified higher local enrollment in health insurance plans, reducing child abuse and neglect, establishing a youth substance abuse program and lowering student truancy as some of their main objectives.

The School District expects to play a big part in childcare initiatives, Peer said.

For the past three years, the School District's preschool has offered Nurturing Parent Classes, said Sarah Hepworth, director of Early Childhood, said.

Often when a student has problems at school, she said, parents see the same behavior at home. The classes offer ways for teachers, parents and children to tackle issues together and confront problems as a partnership.

As part of the collaborative program, Social Services will provide funding to expand the program to all elementary schools in the community.

Hepworth said she has noticed several successes with the classes, which is why she pushed to expand the concept to other schools and older students.

"We wouldn't keep doing it if we weren't having success," she said. "I think that's part of why Social Services wanted to help."

Craig Mental Health also will focus on youth services by establishing its first youth substance abuse program. It's a program that has never existed before in Moffat County, Peer said, which will serve a need that has been around for some time.

Collaborative Management programs are voluntary county initiatives established by the Colorado Legislature in 2004. Interested counties submit goals to the state, which then accepts their plans or not.

If the state approves of the county's goals, and then if the county meets those goals at the end of the year, it is rewarded with more funding.

This will be Moffat County's first year with collaborative management. Peer said opening direct lines of communication between groups and working together on common issues can only help Moffat County residents.

"We have people going to five different appointments with five different agencies, and we're all doing the same thing," she said. "This should help all of us to provide the best possible services to our clients and other people that may need them."

The local oversight group plans to meet from 10 a.m. to noon Oct. 15 to finalize its intended goals to submit to the state.

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdailypress.com

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