Thursday, March 16, 2017

March is National Social Worker Month

Mesa County celebrates and honors Social Workers in our community.

Mesa County Department of Human Services celebrates and honors Social Workers in our community.

National Social Worker month is celebrated each year during the month of March. National Professional Social Work Month is an opportunity to turn the spotlight on the profession of social work and highlight the important contributions they make to the community. 

At the Mesa County Department of Human Services we have some of the most dedicated, tenacious and talented social workers that care and protect children and the elderly.” says Child Welfare Division Director, Kari Daggett MSW.

Social workers stand up for millions of people every day. These include people who are experiencing devastating illnesses and mental health crises, our veterans, children, families and communities. Yet many people still misunderstand who social workers are and the invaluable contributions they bring to society.
The nation’s 650,000 social workers are champions for some of the most vulnerable people in our community. They comfort people who are experiencing devastating illnesses and mental health crises, ensuring the best possible care while on the road to recovery. Social workers support military personnel, veterans and their families, and people living with disabilities. Child, family and school social workers protect children who have been abused and neglected, helping children find new families through adoption, and ensure young people reach their full academic and personal potential. Additionally, social workers work in communities with national, state and local government to provide services, pass legislation to help people with the most needs. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Statement in Regards to the loss of a Mesa County Foster Parent

The death of Foster Parent, Linda Smith is a very rare and tragic occurrence, we at the Mesa County Department of Human Services, regard Foster Parent safety with the utmost importance as they are one of our most valuable resources in attaining permanency for children in our system.  

The Mesa County Department of Human Services recognizes and appreciates Foster Parent’s unwavering support and the love they give to the children in their care.  The work that Foster Parents do on behalf of our community’s children is very important. The Mesa County Department of Human Services will continue to inform and support Foster Parents during the entire placement process.  If this situation has created concerns for current or potential Foster Parents, we encourage you to contact us. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Western Colorado 211 Celebrates National 2-1-1 Day

On Saturday, February 11 (2-11) Western Colorado’s Information & Referral Service 2-1-1 observes “National 2-1-1 Day” in Mesa County.

2-1-1 is a free, confidential, easy-to-remember phone number that connects Western Colorado residents to essential, non-emergency community information and services. These services include: healthcare, rent and mortgage assistance, food and shelter, job training, transportation, childcare, senior care, veteran services and much more.

By dialing 2-1-1, callers are answered by live, highly-trained, Resource Navigators who will guide them through their situation by assessing their needs and then matching them to the best and closest resource in their community. With 2-1-1, individuals, families and practitioners can receive the help and guidance they need with one telephone call.

The first 2-1-1 in Colorado launched in 2003, and last year the five 2-1-1 contact centers across the state received 149,000 contacts through phone calls, in-person visits and emails and another 70,000 online database searches. During times of disaster, 2-1-1 also plays a critical role in emergency relief and recovery. In September 2013, Colorado 2-1-1 was activated to help communication efforts for the floods, and received 6,000 calls for information, assistance, and inquiries about how to volunteer or donate.

Western Colorado 2-1-1 covers the counties of Archuleta, Delta, Dolores, Eagle, Garfield, Gunnison, La Plata, Lake, Hinsdale, Ouray, Mesa, Montezuma, Montrose, Pitkin, San Miguel, and San Juan and received more than 11,000 calls and assisted with over 6,000 referrals to services in 2016. Community members seeking assistance can also access information 24/7 through the 2-1-1Colorado online database or at

2-1-1 has a library of more than 14,000 resources statewide which consist of local, nonprofit, faith-based and public agencies. 2-1-1 has the most comprehensive database of resources in the state.

For more information about Colorado 2-1-1, visit:

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Substance use while breastfeeding IS child abuse

Just because it is legal doesn’t mean it is okay for your baby

The Mesa County Department of Human Services Child Welfare and the Health Department want to remind new mothers that marijuana, narcotics, alcohol and tobacco use has an impact on breastfeeding babies. Substance use while breastfeeding is considered child abuse and can be reported.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that mothers who are breastfeeding their babies should not use marijuana. Breastfeeding has many health benefits for both the baby and the mother. The tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana gets into breast milk and will likely affect your baby.

According to Child Welfare Supervisor Lynette Overmeyer beside the direct, chemical effects of marijuana on a baby, use of marijuana may affect a mother’s ability to be able to properly care for her baby. Additionally, Overmeyer states, “In Child Welfare we consider a mother using marijuana and breastfeeding her baby as child abuse.”

Marijuana can cause lethargy in the baby, which can lead to slow weight gain and possibly slow overall development in the baby long term. The THC in the marijuana impacts the baby’s brain development.  In addition, babies whose mothers smoke marijuana or tobacco regularly have a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Karla Klemm, Women, Infants & Children (WIC) Manager, adds "Even though marijuana is legal in Colorado, it doesn't mean it is safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding."

Both agencies encourage mothers to seek help with breastfeeding through WIC with the Mesa County Health Department.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Human Services Welfare Fraud Case Sentenced

The Mesa County Department of Human Services (MCDHS) Fraud and Recovery Unit in combination with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office sent a case of suspected fraud to the Mesa County District Attorney’s office, totaling approximately $30,000 involving the following programs, Food Assistance, Medicaid, LEAP and the USDA School Lunch program. An additional, $1,412.07 in administrative costs is associated with the investigation for a total restitution of $30,931.68.  The fraud occurred from 8/1/13 through1 /31/16.  The fraud suspect, Miriah Verzani was sentenced to 90 days in jail and 5 years probation, she is required to pay full restitution and is disqualified from receiving Food Assistance benefits for 12 months. Verzani was sentenced on January 3, 2017.

Verzani intentionally forged rental lease agreements to remove her spouse who is also the father of her children, resulting in failing to report her spouse’s income.  Additionally, she forged lease agreements to inflate her obligated rent expense.  Further, Verzani added others to her lease who did not reside with her. All of these actions lead to Verzani receiving more public assistance than her household was eligible for.

Intentionally defrauding public assistance programs consists of falsely reporting information on an application including household composition, household resources or household income. Punishment for these crimes includes: repayment of benefits issued and may result in a 1-year to lifetime, ban from receiving public assistance benefits and/or criminal prosecution.

“Our Fraud and Recovery team takes investigating false information on public assistance applications very seriously.”  said Tracey Garchar, Executive Director for the Mesa County Department of Human Services. “Ensuring benefits go to families who are truly eligible and in need is our utmost priority” added Garchar.

If you or someone you know suspects welfare fraud, please call the Mesa County Department of Human Services Welfare Fraud Hotline at (970) 256-2421.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Over 700 Books Being Donated to Foster Children in Mesa County

A local Mesa County resident makes reading a mission! Shelly Williams is donating over 700 new books to foster children in Mesa County. Mrs. Williams home schools her children and believes that books are integral to a child’s learning experience. She has stocked her children’s bookshelves with books and each year she then donates books to others in the community.

Williams will be donating the books on Monday, December 19, 2016, at the Mesa County Workforce Center room D from 10:00am-2:00 pm.

A book is such a wonderful gift for a child, especially during the holidays,” said Placement Supervisor, Sarah St. Martin. “We are so pleased Shelly has chosen to share this generous gift with children in foster care.” she St. Martin.

Foster children in the care of Ariel Clinical Services, Whimspire Child Placement and Foster Care of Mesa County will bring children to pick out books at the Workforce Center on Monday.

More Foster/kinship families are needed to provide stability and love to children of all ages in Mesa County.  If you are interested in becoming a Foster Parent contact Foster Care of Mesa County at 970 683 2607. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Study Reveals: Rising Costs Associated with Elder Care to Impact Colorado

Colorado is the one of the first states in the Country to create a strategic plan for the aging population.

Colorado’s population over 55 will have a massive impact on nearly every Coloradoan over the next 14 years, according to a new report from the Strategic Action Planning Group on Aging.  The group and the study are a result of House Bill 15-1033. The group was commissioned by state lawmakers to research the economic impacts on citizens and state, local budgets. The report also examines transportation planning, workforce training and improving consumer protections for seniors.

Dave Norman Director of the Area Office on Aging AAA serves on the Strategic Action Group. Norman states, “The Group’s recommendations are for open coordinated and collaborative services for the State’s aging population.  This is not a top-down approach, rather solutions from the bottom up to address and provided critical services for one of the largest populations in the State.”

The group’s report was released on Tuesday morning and warns that if action is not taken to prepare there will be huge impacts on the state budget. Health care for the State’s aging population will continue to outpace the projected revenue growth.

A prevailing recommendation of the Group would be the creation of a new high-level position in the executive branch of the state government.  Norman compares the position to a “Czar on Aging for the State of Colorado.”