Connecting people to human services is Moffat County’s strength | CraigDailyPress.com

Connecting people to human services is Moffat County’s strength

New interactive data map shows that Moffat County bridges the human service gap better than surrounding counties

The new Gap Map, developed under the direction of the Colorado Center on Law and Policy with the support of four other organizations advocating for improved human services in Colorado, shows that Moffat County performs better than neighbors in connecting people to services.

— Human service organizations and agencies in Moffat County are doing a better job of connecting people to benefits than surrounding counties with only Montrose County out ranking Moffat County on the Western Slope counties, according to a new web based data mapping tool called the Gap Map.

"I am really proud of the non-profits we have in our community and how they work together to collaborate and serve people in our community," said Moffat County United Way Executive Director Amanda Arnold. "I believe in the work that we do."

Caseload and performance data from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children or WIC, Colorado Child Care Assistance Program or CCCAP, Colorado Works and Medicaid were brought together in one place to show how these programs are helping people in their communities, said Chaer Robert, the manager for family economic security program at the Colorado Center on Law and Policy.

The map was a project developed under direction of the center with the support of four other organizations advocating for improved human services in Colorado.

When services are not delivered well a gap develops between those who are eligible and those who actually receive human services. Providing the right mix of services benefits the wider community as well as individuals in need.

For example, a large access gap in SNAP has meant that Colorado missed out on more than $686 million in grocery sales in 2013 and gaps in Medicaid mean that medical providers absorb the costs of uninsured care, Robert said.

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Consequences for individuals not receiving benefits included skipping meals, incurring medical debt or not being able to work while staying home to care for children.

For surrounding counties the results may reflect challenges faced with resort populations and the Colorado marijuana industry, Amy Barr, executive director of United Way Battlement to the Bells that raises funds for organizations within Garfield, as well as parts of Eagle and Pitkin counties.

"I'm finding the high cost of health care and housing are forcing middle class people who would not ordinarily need services to seek them, and I think the marijuana industry is attracting people to move here thinking that this is the land of opportunity. Once here the attitude is very much a, what can you do for me, attitude," she said.

Creating connections across service areas so that agencies and organizations are able to share successes and overcome challenges together is one goal of the data tool.

The intent of the map "is to spark a dialogue among human service directors, their staff, advocacy organizations and community leaders," Robert said.

The Human Resource Council brings organizations, agencies and individuals together quarterly, in Moffat County and the partnerships forged by this group may partially explain Moffat County's strong performance.

"I think the relationships between the service providers is strong helping us to better serve the community and connect people to available resources," Arnold said.

The Gap Map is available at:

gapmap.org.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.