State dollars helping local communities |

State dollars helping local communities

Social Services uses Colorado funding in county

Collin Smith

— Families receiving welfare assistance benefit from the Colorado system, said Laura Willems, Moffat County Social Services self-sufficiency manager.

Colorado Works, the state welfare program, allows counties to spend welfare dollars in programs that local social services offices tailor for their communities.

For example, Social Services provides transportation help for adults with jobs. In an urban area, that can mean free bus passes, whereas in Moffat County, that means help paying for gas and could mean help with a car payment.

At their weekly meeting Tuesday, Moffat County commissioners voted to approve a memorandum of understanding from the Colorado Department of Human Services, which is required to receive state and federal funding.

That document is the agreement between counties and the state granting latitude for spending as long as programs don’t conflict with state and federal statutes.

After the commissioners’ approval, Moffat County Social Services plans are sent to the state for approval. Every Colorado county must sign the same memorandum to receive state and federal dollars.

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The program is “absolutely” important for addressing families’ needs, Willems said.

“We meet with offices from bigger areas, and the kinds of collaborations they use with other county entities and their needs are completely different,” Willems said. “What may be barriers here, may be barriers there, but they can’t be addressed in the same way.”

The program does not provide a free ride, Willems said. The idea is to get people working so that welfare assistance is temporary.

“(Colorado) Works is a work program,” she said. “The goal of this program is to get adults working and off this program.”

Another Social Services program is designed to keep families together.

If an extended family member takes guardianship of a child, Moffat County Social Services looks at the child’s needs only.

This lets a retired grandparent still receive assistance for being a child’s guardian if he or she were ineligible on his or her own.

“It’s a big financial burden they probably were not counting on,” Willems said. “It helps families maintain (children) so they won’t go into the foster care system.”

The memorandum of understanding is approved annually. This year’s document only contained minor language changes from last year’s, according to the cover letter.

What makes recent history different than the past is the increased amount of funding from the state, Willems said. That makes it possible for Social Services to be more flexible in how it appropriates financial assistance to families.

Work on developing new case procedures began this summer. Social Services now has 14 programs instituted and is refining others for implementation.

Moffat County Social Services allocates money on a case-by-case need basis, but does not help some families at the expense of others, Willems said.

“Obviously, we want to be very fiscally sound in those decisions.” she said, “But it’s not a situation where, if we help one, we can’t help another.”

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

In other action

At its weekly meeting, the Board of County Commissioners:

• Signed pre-registration form for Mountain States Employers Council membership

• Approved development for the Greenwood Cove minor subdivision on County Road 29 and the Hunt minor subdivision on County Road 5.

• Approved a conditional-use permit for the Grave Divide Disposal facility, which collects oil well production water for evaporation.

• Approved a conditional-use permit for Marianne Maigatter to develop property on County Road 30 to include rented cabins and full RV hookups.