Moffat County Locals: Rapid responses earns Moffat County DHS accolades | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County Locals: Rapid responses earns Moffat County DHS accolades

The Child Welfare Team at Moffat County Department of Human Services will receive one of eight C-Stat awards, given by the Colorado Department of Human Resources, for top performance by agencies and partners. The team includes, from left, Renee Nelms, Jamie Hume, Kris McKenzie, Charity Reiser, Starla Jensen, Michelle Winey, Markie Green, Nicole Shatz and Dollie Rose. Not pictured is Jessica Cochran

Children in crisis in Moffat County are receiving a faster response from the department tasked with child welfare.

The newly renamed Moffat County Department of Human Services is using C-Stat — a performance-based analysis strategy — to move the agency to an outcomes-oriented and collaborative approach that has garnered accolades from the state and brought about a reduction in cases.

The system means that "caseworkers are getting to put their eyes on children, and that's translating into scores that we are receiving," said Child Welfare and Adult Protection Supervisor Nicole Shatz.

The strategy was implemented in January 2012, and since fall 2015, DHS leadership has made it a priority to improve timeliness.

"Change in administration and turnover has led to new staff that are here and really want to do the job," Shatz said.

On Jan. 25, the DHS Child Welfare Team will receive Moffat County's first C-Stat award for performance on the timeliness of immediate initial response to abuse/neglect assessments.

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"The Moffat County Department of Human Services has never been given an award by the state for their performance before. It validates the hard work that has occurred since new leadership and a new child welfare team has come on board," said County Department of Human Resources Director Dollie Rose.

C-Stat awards are given by the state of Colorado to celebrate and distinguish top performers for consistent, significant improvement in performance demonstrated by a Colorado county or an office, division or facility across Colorado DHS and its partners.

"We do our best to keep children safe," said Case Worker II Markie Green. “We get the call, and we're there within 45 minutes. We lean on each other, and we just go."

The quick response time means caseworkers arrive on the scene when emotions are stilled heightened.

"I think that, for the C-Stat, we show up, and they have a presence on their side," said Case Worker I Renee Nelms. "We are unflappable in that moment. We are not judging you."

Such an approach represents a paradigm shift for the department.

"We are trying to reach families in a different way," said Case Worker II Michelle Winey.

The approach resulting from becoming a direct report county is less punitive, more transparent and collaborative with the families.

"The utmost priority is keeping children safe. We also know how important and valuable it is to keep families together. The second priority is working with families to keep children with their families, when possible, and give them that support. We work really, really hard to keep families together," said Lead Case Worker Kris McKenzie.

Shatz attributes their success to "our team. Everyone has their expertise, and they are able to bring that to the table and work really well together. They are invested in helping each other out."

The team's efforts are having a positive impact, as they keep more kids in the community and more families together.

"Our number of voluntary, non-court cases have decreased due to the preventative services we are offering," Rose said.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.