“My two main things are that I believe in relationships, working relationships and community relationships. Relationships are not only extremely important to my work, but they’re also a core value of mine.”
— Kerri Klein, newly hired director of the Moffat County Department of Social Services, about her belief in building success through relationships.
Craig and Moffat County residents have coined a term to describe those who return to the area after taking time to strike out on their own and chart a new path.
Though not often used to describe a non-Craig native an exception could be made in the case of Kerri Klein, who epitomizes the spirit of the word Boomeranger.
Klein, originally from North Dakota, studied social work at Minnesota State University Moorhead.
She moved to Craig in 1993 to begin her 20-year child welfare career.
Klein spent eight years in Moffat County, including three and a half years on loan to the Colorado Department of Human Services to create a child welfare information system, before receiving an opportunity in Arapahoe County.
On Thursday Klein returns to the agency where it all started as the new director of the Moffat County Department of Social Services.
She’s replacing Marie Peer who, after more than 40 years, is retiring next month.
Klein, an athlete and avid outdoorsman, said last week she’s looking forward to returning to Moffat County.
“When I was done with (the state department) project I really wanted to go back to social work, and work with families and children,” Klein said. “Arapahoe County provided the opportunity to get back to the work I love, but I really enjoyed it when I was (in Moffat County) previously because I’m an outdoors person, so that’s a great place to live.”
Klein has a reputation as a capable child welfare worker, which she earned through building relationships with her community, stakeholders, colleagues and clients.
She plans on building off two key modes of operation in her new director role in Moffat County.
“My two main things are that I believe in relationships — working relationships and community relationships,” Klein said. “Relationships are not only extremely important to my work, but they’re also a core value of mine.
“I also believe in collaboration. I think in order to meet the needs of the clients of Social Services there needs to be a lot of collaboration.”
Klein’s dedication to collaboration and building relationships was music to Commissioner-elect Chuck Grobe’s ears.
Grobe participated in the interview process and said Friday Klein was his top choice for the job.
“What I liked was her enthusiasm and her experience bringing multiple agencies together to solve problems,” Grobe said. “In the end we’re all responsible (for the welfare system in Moffat County), and I think she is going to be a tremendous asset in bringing people from the police department, the sheriff’s office and other entities together to ensure we’re all on the same page and have the same goals.”
And Klein has some broad goals she wants to accomplish in Moffat County, but admitted she’s going to need time to listen to and learn from her new colleagues before having a clear idea of what issues need to be addressed.
Though she is already familiar with a joint Denver Post and 9News investigative report from last month that revealed Moffat County has the highest rate of child abuse referrals per capita than any other county in the state, Klein said she doesn’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.
“One of my first thoughts (after reading the report) was perhaps the community is extremely involved in valuing their children and the department is doing a good job of listening to people when they call,” Klein said. “People are more likely to call if they believe they are actually being listened to.”
Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.