Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November is National Adoption Month

Mesa County celebrates and honors adoptive families in our community.

Mesa County will observe National Adoption Day on Friday November 21 in Judge Robinson's Courtroom as several local families finalize their adoptions.
More than 101,000 children and youth in the U.S. foster care system are awaiting permanent, loving families.  National Adoption Month is an effort to raise awareness about the adoption of children from foster care and to honor those adoptive families who have opened their homes and hearts to become the lifelong families for these children.  While over 60% of children in foster care will return to their biological parents, the others will require an alternate permanency outcome if the Court determines they are unable to return home. 

In Mesa County, there are approximately 20 children each year who become available for adoption through the Mesa County Department of Human Services and are in need of a permanent and stable home.  These children are generally over age 7 and may have developmental, medical or other special needs.  They may be part of a sibling group or have ethnically diverse backgrounds.    

“Adoption is a very special process and we are so proud to be a part of helping children find permanent, loving families,” said Dena Neujahr, Placement Services Team Supervisor for the Mesa County Department of Human Services.    

The Mesa County Department of Human Services is dedicated to building collaborations among local agencies, courts and advocacy organizations to achieve permanence for children.  This effort offers children the chance to live with stable and loving families and encourage other dedicated individuals to make a powerful difference in the lives of children through adoption.

If you are interested in obtaining more information about services provided through the Mesa County Department of Human Services, please contact Dena Neujahr at 248-2818.   

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Audit Reaffirms Work Being Conducted as Part of “Keeping Kids Safe and Families Healthy”

Colorado’s Child Welfare system has improved over the last four years and is on the right path to keeping kids safe and families healthy.

The Legislative audit conducted by the Office of State Auditor from July 2013 through October 2014 and released today had several administrative findings, most of which have already been completed as part of the implementation of Governor Hickenlooper’s 2012 and 2013 child welfare plans, "Keeping Kids Safe and Families Healthy."

"The Office of State Auditor’s report reaffirms the work already under way as part of the Governor’s child welfare plans," said Reggie Bicha, executive director, Colorado Department of Human Services.  "I am proud to say that we have already accomplished many of the findings in the audit, and we are seeing system improvements as a result."

Colorado’s state supervised/county administered system provides the best model to achieve the ongoing improvements from the Governor’s plans and the audit because counties have the clearest understanding of the needs of their local communities and available resources. The State places a high value on the partnership with counties and the joint ownership and accountability of the child welfare system.

Over the past four years, the State and counties together have implemented nearly every component of the Governor’s plans, including:
  • A common practice approach for Colorado through the use of RED Teams, which will be in use in every county beginning in January, and a pilot Differential Response program, which is demonstrating positive outcomes in eight counties;
  • Managing performance through the use of County Scorecards and C-Stat, which for nearly three years has used real-time data to drive positive outcomes;
  • In partnership with the Kempe Center, a complete redesign of the Child Welfare Training Academy to include a new curriculum based on the most current child protection research and data; regional training sites and online training opportunities; and continuing education and training for call takers/screeners, caseworkers, supervisors, senior work staff and foster parents;
  • Increased transparency through the Community Performance Center that provides online county-specific outcome data; and statewide C-Stat data published quarterly online;
  • The creation of the Child Welfare Executive Leadership Council which brings together community members, advocates, stakeholders, foster parents and county partners to advise the CDHS Executive Director on policy and practice across the system;
  • Legislation to increase transparency and expand the scope of the Child Fatality Review Team to include near fatalities and egregious incidents as part of county reporting and team review, and, in the case of fatalities, the ability to release the child’s name, date of birth and date of death.  Colorado is one of only two states in the nation to review and report on egregious incidents. 
  • A statewide hotline providing one number to report abuse and neglect across Colorado that will launch on time and on budget in January;
  • New prevention programs to help families before they become involved in the child welfare system – SafeCare Colorado, Community Response and expansion of Nurse Family Partnership;
  • New online training for mandatory reporters;
  • The use of mobile technology to enhance field work for caseworkers;
  • A caseload/workload study conducted by the Office of State Auditor which found that Colorado is currently understaffed by 30%.
"We recognize the vast amount of work that has been done over the last four years to improve our child protection system," added Bicha.  "The State Auditor’s report is affirmation of the work already being done since the inception of the Governor’s child welfare plans for Colorado.  We are on a journey of continuous improvement to ensure positive outcomes for children and families."

Friday, November 7, 2014

Mesa County Department of Human Services & Workforce Center Closed for Veterans Day

In honor of Veteran's Day the Mesa County Department of Human Services and Mesa County Workforce Center will be closed on Tuesday November 11, 2014. Normal business hours will resume on Wednesday November 12, 2014.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Colorado Department of Labor to Promote Veterans Services Via Social Media Throughout November

Daily postings will keep veterans apprised of opportunities and resources

November is “Hire A Veteran Month” in Colorado and during the next four weeks, the Department of Labor and Employment will be utilizing a targeted social media outreach effort to highlight services the agency makes available to veterans and employers.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has veteran employment specialists in workforce centers across Colorado connecting veterans with employment services including resume assistance, workshops, interviewing skills and more. During the next four weeks, veterans can turn to Facebook (www.facebook.com/coloradolabor) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/coloradolabor) to learn about jobs, find their nearest veteran employment specialist and engage with service providers.

Although at 7.0 percent, Colorado’s average unemployment rate for veterans (from October 2013 through September 2014) is down from what it was in years past, veterans unemployment is still well above the non-veteran population’s average unemployment rate of 4.3 percent.  More than half of the 231,100 veterans in Colorado’s labor force are veterans of Gulf Wars 1 and 2.

To target that demographic during “Hire A Veteran” Month, the Department of Labor and Employment will be launching an active social media campaign.  The Pew Research Internet Project cites 74% of online adults are using social networking sites and that percentage increases to 82% for people 30 - 49 years old.

This is the first time the Department of Labor and Employment has implemented a targeted outreach effort to Colorado’s veterans through social media.  “The Department of Veteran Affairs reports that the median age of Gulf War veterans is 37 years old, making social media the tool of choice for us in our outreach efforts,” explains Executive Director Ellen Golombek.   “Social media goes to where the young veterans are so that’s where we need to be in our outreach efforts.”

Every day during November, the Department of Labor and Employment will share veterans-specific content via its Facebook (www.facebook.com/coloradolabor) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/coloradolabor) channels including:
  • Daily “job of the day” posts
  • Veteran-specific events at workforce centers
  • How to connect with veterans employment specialists
  • Resources for re-joining the civilian workforce
  • Federal grants and services
  • Information on tax credits for employers who hire veterans 
In addition to Facebook and Twitter, veteran job seekers and employers interested in hiring them can also find information at www.hireacoloradovet.gov, a website created by the Department of Labor and Employment that links to services and resources including the state’s jobs database where veterans can search for jobs and where employers can post job openings.

“Helping veterans successfully maneuver the job search terrain is a key component of reintegration support and is a major part of Hire A Veteran Month,” Golombek says, “Social media has proven to be a great way to increase our outreach -- especially with younger generations who rely entirely on online resources for their job search.”

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


 Individuals and families needing assistance with their winter heat bill are encouraged to apply.

Mesa County, Co.— Mesa County residents can now pick up an application for the 2014-2015 LEAP (Low Income Energy Assistance Program) season by stopping by the Mesa County Department of Human Services located at 510 29 ½ Road.  Applications will be taken through April 30th

LEAP is designed to help individuals and families with winter heating costs.  LEAP is not intended to pay the entire cost of home heating. 

“Something as seemingly simple as paying the heat bill can pose a significant challenge when income is limited or non-existent,” said Michelle Trujillo, Director of Economic Assistance with the Mesa County Department of Human Services.  "Fortunately, there are public assistance programs in place to help income-eligible families in need," added Trujillo.  Residents applying for LEAP benefits must meet eligibility requirements and income guidelines. 

Applications are accepted and processed through the Mesa County Department of Human Services.  The application period runs from November 1st through April 30th.  If applicants are financially eligible to receive LEAP benefits, the payment will be sent directly to the provider and will show up as a credit on the applicants’ heat bill.  LEAP benefits are the same regardless of when the application is processed. 

For additional information regarding LEAP benefits please contact Western Colorado 2-1-1 Resources and Referrals by simply dialing 2-1-1 or 244-8400.  We also encourage you to visit our website at www.humanservices.mesacounty.us

Monday, November 3, 2014

Governor Hickenlooper Declares November As "Hire A Veteran Month"

Online and face-to-face services to be showcased during the month

Governor John Hickenlooper has issued a proclamation declaring November as “Hire A Veteran Month” and during the next four weeks, the Department of Labor and Employment will be spotlighting the full spectrum of services the agency makes available to veterans.

Workshops and special hiring events will take place statewide (for a full list, see the events calendar at www.colorado.gov/cdle) and information and job connections will be available online at www.hireacoloradovet.gov, the veterans website run by the Department of Labor and Employment.  Veterans can use the website to tap into a jobs database or connect with service providers.  Employers can post jobs at the site and learn about tax credit incentives that are available.

Colorado’s average unemployment rate for veterans (from October 2013 to September 2014) is 7.0 percent, down significantly from earlier years. However, it is still well above the general population’s average unemployment rate of 4.3 percent for the same time period and young veterans of recent conflicts are generally encountering far greater difficulty in finding work than the rest of the population.

Helping veterans find meaningful work that matches their skills and interests is a key goal of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.  During the last program year, the agency provided employment and training services to almost 43,000 veterans.  While many received services online, others opted to receive one-on-one assistance from more than 40 Veterans Employment Specialists at state and county run Workforce Centers across the state.

These Specialists – who are themselves veterans -- provide assistance to veterans in shortening the transition from the military to the civilian workplace, in acquiring skills and planning for the future.  Lee Tibbets is a Veteran Employment Specialist in Denver.  “Veterans have a priority of service in all Workforce Centers for any employment, training and placement services provided by qualified job training programs,” he says.  “I extend an open invitation to Colorado to Colorado veterans to use our online resources or stop in and see one of us.”

The Governor’s Proclamation notes in part that “veterans … have an ability to adapt and learn quickly and they bring the right mind-set, a good attitude, team spirit and personal attributes that all businesses are looking for.  The integration of these highly qualified veterans into the workforce will greatly benefit our State’s businesses.”  Full text of the proclamation is available upon request.

“Our veterans representatives are doing a great job of getting service men and women into good jobs -- and into the training that leads to good jobs,” says Department of Labor and Employment Executive Director Ellen Golombek, “and employers who hire veterans will tell you they have made a real investment in their business with each hire.  We are proud of our long-standing commitment to the men and women of the Armed Forces.  Our approach is veterans helping veterans.”
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