Posts tagged Ballot Initiative
Boulder County’s human services programs highlighted nationally
County’s focus on early intervention and prevention helping increasing numbers of people
Boulder County, Colo. – Boulder County’s front-end approach to providing human services will be in the national spotlight this weekend. On Sunday, June 24, Dateline NBC will feature a documentary on three families who have received services through the county and its collaboration with community providers.
According to the network’s description, the one-hour special, “America Now: Lost in Suburbia,” focuses on formerly middle class families confronting poverty for the first time. Dateline producers and camera crews have been in Boulder County since late 2011 conducting interviews and gathering footage for the documentary. Boulder County Department of Housing and Human Services (DHHS) Director Frank Alexander spoke with Dateline NBC anchor Lester Holt for the program, and numerous interviews were also conducted with DHHS staff and representatives from community non-profit partner organizations.
The program will air this Sunday at 7 p.m. Mountain time on NBC.
Since 2008, Boulder County has seen a 150 percent increase in need for Food Assistance and a 63 percent increase in need for Medicaid services. Some of this increase is a result of people applying for human services assistance for the first time in their lives. Alexander notes that in recent years, in part to address this rising need, Boulder County has shifted to a front-end, early intervention and prevention approach to providing human services. “This involves helping clients identify their full range of needs as soon as they come to us,” he said. “For example, if we can help someone avoid foreclosure by getting him into housing counseling, we save him and the community nearly $75,000.”
Boulder County’s foreclosure rate has fallen 58 percent since it peaked in 2009, the same year the number of clients in DHHS’ foreclosure counseling program hit its high point. “Many clients who come to us for Food Assistance quickly find out that they also need housing counseling and are eligible for financial assistance with childcare,” Alexander said. “By investing more in this early identification of needs, we are saving money and helping people avoid deeper crisis.”
Ballot Initiative 1A, also known as the Temporary Human Services Safety Net (TSN), is helping generate funding for these crucial services. The TSN, passed by voters in November 2010, was designed to back-fill budget cuts to Boulder County’s human services programs. The county has seen a 20 percent cut to its human services funding at the state and federal level during a time when need has risen dramatically.
“Our front-end approach to human services is strengthening our safety net,” said Boulder County Commissioner Cindy Domenico. “Thanks in big part to the taxpayers and our community partners, as more of our neighbors find themselves needing help we’re building a system that is there to meet them earlier and more efficiently.”
Help with childcare available for qualified Boulder County families
Funds from Ballot Initiative 1A continue to boost childcare program and promote self-sufficiency
Boulder County, Colo. – Boulder County Families who need help with childcare and who meet eligibility requirements are once again being invited to sign up for childcare assistance. The Colorado Childcare Assistance Program (CCAP) waitlist is open for applications. CCAP is a program that supports individuals and families at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level, helping them access quality childcare so the parents or guardians can remain employed or in educational programs. For low-wage working parents and guardians, or parents enrolled in school or technical training, childcare can represent an extraordinary expense.
As economic conditions have worsened, the need for childcare assistance has increased dramatically in Boulder County. Not only are more families in need of this help, but also declining wages and job losses have made more families eligible for CCAP benefits. In 2010, the Boulder County Department of Housing and Human Services suspended enrollment for CCAP because need was outpacing resources for the program. Later that year, Boulder County voters approved Ballot Initiative 1A, which was designed to help backfill deficiencies in state funding for county human services programs. Among other things, money from 1A, also known as the Temporary Safety Net, has been used to reopen the CCAP waitlist and to expand the program itself. More than 40 percent of the $5.1 million raised by 1A in 2011 is being used to meet additional childcare needs in Boulder County.
In order to qualify for CCAP, parents or guardians must be Boulder County residents, and must have a job, be searching for a job, or be in school or seeking training. Income caps for qualification are based on family size. As examples, a family of three with a monthly gross income of less than $2,857 or a family of four with a monthly gross income of less than $3,346 could take part in CCAP. Families who qualify pay a portion of the childcare costs based on income. A full list of requirements and more information on CCAP is available on the Boulder County website or by calling community partner Aspen Family Services (which administers CCAP’s application process) at 303-604-1043, ext. 2828.
Beginning Oct. 1, Boulder County will invest more than $1 million throughout the next two years in community-based mental health and substance abuse services, community resource centers, dental care, and access to quality child care.
Later this year, funding will include additional resources for emergency services as well as community-based transition age youth services, crisis housing services, parent education and life skills services, and job training and employment support.
Boulder County is investing in priority areas identified through a collaborative, community-wide process built on past strategic planning efforts that will support the community’s safety net by preventing greater dislocation and costlier services for community members.
Agencies receiving funding are: Mental Health Partners ($400,000 for mental health and substance abuse services), Sister Carmen Community Center ($200,000 for Community Resource Center Services), City of Boulder Family Resource Schools ($170,000 for Family Resource School Services), Clinica Family Health Services ($35,000 for dental health services), Dental Aid ($35,000 for dental health services), and the Early Childhood Council of Boulder County ($60,000 for quality child care).
This is the second round of funding provided by the Boulder County Temporary Safety Net tax initiative, or Ballot Initiative 1A, that was passed in last November’s election. The five-year property tax back fills deficiencies in state funding for county human services programs and supports contracts with nonprofit agencies maintaining a safety net for families and children in Boulder County.
“We are fortunate to have the support of the community to deal with the significant impacts of the economic downturn,” said Frank Alexander, Director of Boulder County’s Department of Housing and Human Services. “Only by funding critical services that have suffered serious cuts and simultaneously addressing these critical safety net gaps that prevent greater family crises can we deal with the increased need in community programs with very limited funding.”
Just as human services agencies throughout Boulder County are experiencing tremendous growth in caseloads and increased demand for services, state and federal funding sources have been declining significantly. The funding ensures these critical services continue and that community members are served.
The first round of funding – $503,000 deployed in February – has increased the availability of supported child care, provided support to local nonprofit organizations that provide family and individual crisis services, supported child welfare, child protection and early intervention practices, and has ensured timely access to food assistance, medical care, and essential benefits.
“As human service agencies throughout Boulder County have been stressed to meet the demands of our community during this economic downturn, the Temporary Human Services funds have been essential in our efforts to support families and prevent the need for costlier, future interventions,” County Commissioner Cindy Domenico said.