Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Expanding Services in the Mountains in Spite of Federal Cuts

Location: Nederland, CO 80466, USA
Colorado State Senator Rachel Zenzinger,
discusses the impacts of Sequestration
with Nederland Mayor, Joe Gierlach at the
Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG)
Because of sequestration, the national government is making across the board cuts to social services which directly impact local programs. Yet, Boulder County is expanding services in Nederland.

Thursday, July 25, from 8:30a.m. – 12:30p.m., there will be a representative of Boulder County Social Services available at the Community Center to assist mountain folk to apply for needed County and State services. See below for details.

How Did This Happen?

The answer is not always so black and white.

At the federal level, the first round of sequestration cut $769,500  in the Denver region, (reductions as high as 15 percent) for critical programs such as Meals on Wheels, transportation rides for medical appointments, home repair programs, dental care, eyeglasses, assistance with home preservation (avoiding foreclosures), counseling, etc.

Recently, a few representatives from the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) went to Washington D.C. to talk to our Colorado congressmen and senators about the impacts of sequestration on our aging population. (Specifically, Chairwoman, Mayor Sue Horn, Executive Director, Jennifer Schafele, and DRCOG's Director of the Area Agency on Aging, Jayla Sanchez-Warren.) 

They had productive meetings with our Colorado Congressional delegation (Udall, Bennet, Pearlmutter, etc.) and also met with White House staff; Dept. of Health and Human Services Admin staff, and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont's staff (he's leading the cause for the Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act or OAA).

The Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) is working with the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) and a host of partners to collect data about the OAA's impacts, which indicates that these programs reduce costs, by keeping older Americans out of expensive care giving facilities. Cost-effective and efficient OAA programs and supports are the lifeline for older adults throughout the nation, helping them through the provision of home-delivered meals, rides to medical appointments and for shopping, in-home support and other services. The OAA also supports the family caregivers of these older adults.

State of Colorado Benefit Funding Increased:

While the federal government is cutting, last spring in Colorado, legislators Guzman and Primavera introduced SB-127 which went into effect July 1st, adding a one-time additional $2 million statewide for the Older Coloradans Fund, in addition to another $2 million in the state budget. This is for older Coloradans to get the nutrition, transportation and homemaker/personal care services they need to remain independent and living at home – again, reducing overall costs.

This is a great and welcome accomplishment in Colorado (described in this Huffington Post Article) Yet, we need to keep working to meet the growing unmet need of this population and counter the effects of sequestration on our state services for older adults.

The Nederland Area Mayor's Task Force on Housing and Human Services

Nederland brings County Services up 3,000 feet:

At the local Peak to Peak Area level, we began the Nederland Mayor's Task Force on Housing and Human Services which is broader in scope than focusing only on older adults. This past spring, the Task Force has been working hard, and have already put together the Peak to Peak Health & Human Services Guide describing all the services offered, with contact information. It can be a complex array of services that is not always so black and white, with different requirements for each program, and a combination of federal, state, and county funding sources. So, to make it easier for Nederland Area residents to take advantage of these programs:
Thursday, July 25, from 8:30a.m. – 12:30p.m., there will be a representative of Boulder County Social Services available at the Nederland Community Center to assist mountain folk to apply for needed County and State services.
This is a terrific opportunity to talk with an eligibility specialist, without having to go down the mountain. It's worth it to stop by and find out if you qualify for services like SNAP (food stamps), child care, utilities assistance, emergency needs, medicaid and cash assistance, etc. A Boulder County representative will be available in Nederland once per month for the next 3-6 months.

The county representative will be in the office of Keith Carr, our local representative for Boulder County Aging Services, just around the corner from where Nederland Food Pantry check-in is. These hours also coincide with the Nederland Food Pantry Hours. Boulder County is extending this service to the mountain area only if people come in and take advantage of their presence here, so let's avail ourselves of this chance. Bring proof of income and ID/Citizenship with you to speed up the process. This eligibility technician will also be able to enroll folks, for a one-stop experience.

[Here is a Video Valediction] This is a Ned local favorite Colorado jam band: The String Cheese Incident, performing Black and White on Austin City Limits[What is a Video Valediction?]
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