Area among top in social services |

Area among top in social services

County ranks high in state, falls short of meeting federal standards

Collin Smith

— At their meeting last week, the Moffat County Commission heard a report of Moffat County Social Services’ annual Child and Family Services review.

They were glad to hear the report’s good news, commissioners Tom Gray and Tom Mathers said.

“They did real well this year,” Gray said. “To end up so high across the whole state, that’s good for them.”

Moffat County Social Services met five of this year’s seven goals, which placed them in a tie for second – with Logan and Garfield – out of 64 Colorado counties.

La Plata and Larimer counties placed the highest, meeting six of the seven goals. No county met all goals.

Starting in 2001, the federal government found Colorado was not meeting 49 of its child and family services standards. Since then, the Colorado Department of Human Services has conducted annual assessments of individual county Social Services offices.

As the state has met compliance with each standard, the federal government has shortened the list of standards it requires in annual reports.

One of the goals Moffat County accomplished was identifying adoptive homes for every child in its system. To have homes ready for children if their family situation worsens is paramount for children so they do not float around in the foster care system, unanchored to a supportive environment, said Marie Peer, Moffat County social services director.

“The federal government gives us a year to find that, but if we could be even quicker that would be wonderful,” Peer said.

Moffat County also met two safety goals for preventing child abuse, one for establishing permanence for children in the foster system and one for doing health assessments for all children and meeting their health needs.

Moffat County failed in two areas of child wellbeing. It did not meet standards for seeing every child in his or her home, with his or her family, once a month.

Social Services will make every effort to ensure a home meeting happens for every child, Peer said.

“That’s where they live, that’s where things occur for most kids, and that’s where they are with their family,” Peer said. “From now on, even if you (a social worker) see that child five times in one month here in the office, you have to see that child at their home, also.”

Moffat County also failed in efforts to prepare youths for emancipation. It is required to prepare minors for life on their own, by teaching life skills such as budgeting and balancing a checkbook.

Peer plans to address that shortcoming, as well.

“If all youth are properly emancipated, then they’re better prepared to go on with their lives,” Peer said. “That’s wonderful.”

This year’s results are an improvement from last year, when Social Services met four of 12 benchmarks. The process has been good for Colorado and Moffat County, Peer said.

“The federal government shows we need to look at permanence, safety and well-being,” Peer said. “Absolutely these things matter.”

Peer said she hopes to involve more local groups and agencies in child services in the future.

“Every single agency has something to add,” she said.

Collin Smith can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or

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