At the most recent meeting of the Grand County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), Commissioners Merrit Linke and Kristen Manguso heard updates on current fire conditions within the County and received quarterly updates from the various departments providing health and human services.
FIRE RESTRICTION UPDATE
Sheriff Brett Schroetlin called in to update the Board on fire restriction discussions. He reported that following a conference call with regional, state and federal partners, Grand County does not plan to enter into any fire restrictions for the coming week.
The Sheriff’s Office is the determining agency for fire restrictions in Grand County and follows a seven-point criterion for assessing risk and the need for restrictions. Currently, Schroetlin stated that of the seven criteria, the county has current concern on two points, grass conditions and a flux in energy release component on fuel (brush, trees, et cetera). He said that discussion of restrictions would begin if we reached three points and restrictions would be enforced at four.
In order to better communicate with the public about fire restrictions and other critical incidents, such as emergency road closures, the Sheriff’s Office has set up a message line. The recorded notice will change as necessary, and currently informs that there are no fire restrictions for the county at this time. The line can be reached at 970-725-3852. The BOCC requested weekly updates on current fire conditions and restrictions, and the Sheriff will provide that report right around noon at the Board’s regular Tuesday meeting.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES UPDATES
Deb Ruttenberg, Director of Human Services, presented the Department’s quarterly update, including caseload numbers, some funding information, and legislative changes that will be implemented in upcoming months. She reported 11 families and 16 children in Grand County currently being served through the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program. This is only a minimal increase since the department recently removed a waitlist for the program. She indicated that there were applications pending for 7 children, but that pending status typically meant an incomplete application. The County is currently accepting applications.
Ruttenberg reported 97 child welfare referrals since July 2017, compared to 137 referrals in the 2016-17 fiscal year. 64.9 percent of the referrals were screened out, and 35.1 percent screened in for further case work. She indicated that adult protection referrals had increased, with 36 referrals to date in 2017-18, compared to seven in the previous year. This trend is in opposition with the state trend that has seen referral numbers go down by about 30 percent. 28 percent of this year’s adult protection referrals were screened in for ongoing case work in Grand County. This number is slightly lower than the state’s, with 34.5 percent screened-in.
She stressed the department’s ongoing training requirements and named prenatal substance exposure, trauma-informed practice, financial health for case managers, assessing patterns of neglect, and motivational interviewing as among the trainings child welfare staff had completed this year. Adult protection staff have participated in trainings on such topics as cognitive screening in older adults, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and investigations training.
Recent legislation will see changes to the frequency of child care market rate studies and new formulas for determining child care assistance eligibility, reimbursement for child care programs, and funding amounts for child welfare allocation. The impacts of those changes are not all immediately apparent.
Other statistics presented were 2,000 Grand County residents on Medicaid, as of January, including 781 under age 21 and 1,219 over 21. An additional 259 children are covered under Child Health Care Plus. There are currently 1,055 ongoing cases of medical assistance and 197 cases of ongoing food assistance. The department is averaging 26 new applications a month for assistance.
Staff from the Public Health Department were on hand to give updates on public health and home care services. Director Brene Belew-LaDue indicated that Public Health was beginning to combine some operational procedures with Human Services. A new finance team will work together with both departments, and they are currently exploring how to move forward in tandem. The two departments are also working on combining some of their intake procedures, so that staff and those clients receiving various services will not need to duplicate efforts.
Belew-LaDue updated the BOCC on the progress of the current community health assessment, saying that the collaborative project management team had begun working with consultants from Corona Insights in order to draft a community questionnaire. The goal is to release to questionnaire to the public by the end of June.
Tina Strang, Home Health Director, gave data from 2017, indicating that 19 unique individuals had received home care services, for a total of 2,081 billable hours of care. She noted the year as having unusual turnover, saying that typically home care recipients will remain in program for a period of 10 years or greater. In 2017, she said there were 11 admissions and 13 discharges from the program. She indicated that some of the turnover could be explained by the fact that part-time residents receiving care would be discharged and admitted as they came and went from the county and that clients would need to be both discharged and re-admitted if their insurance or pay source were to change.
In response to questions from Commissioner Manguso, Strang indicate that program revenues came from Medicaid, the Veterans Administration, and private pay. She also responded that the program would perform grocery shopping and some meal preparation when in the home. In general, she indicated, carers were in the home for two to four hours, two days a week. In that time they may prepare whatever meal was timely or may prep later meals, such as putting a dish in a crock-pot for later.
All information was welcome by the Commissioners who have looked at numerous health and human service questions in the last year, especially with regards to elder care and elder services in the County.