Child-abuse prevention program launched
A pilot program initiated this month in 13 Colorado counties is intended as an intervention in potential domestic-violence situations where a child is at risk. In Teller County, Colorado Community Response is funded by a $150,000 grant from the state.
The program is a collaboration of the Department of Social Services and Community Partnership Family Resource Center.
The intervention begins when someone calls social services to report possible child abuse.
If DSS determines there is no immediate risk to the child, Community Partnership steps in. “The partnership contacts the family to see if they want services provided by the Family Wellness program,” said Kim Mauthe, director of DSS. “The program is for families who are on the cusp; we are very prevention-focus.”
Of 10 referrals in less than a month, eight families have accepted help. “There has been a better response than what we thought,” Mauthe said.
Jennifer Reid has been hired by the Community Partnership to coordinate the Family Wellness program. “Jennifer has a big heart,” said Jodi Mijares, the partnership's director. “These families are just happy to have someone to talk to.”
Listener extraordinaire, Reid schedules two hours to talk on the phone, or in-person, with the family to determine the needs. “For the parents, sometimes that extra support keeps things from reaching a crisis,” Mijares said.
In addition to Reid's salary, the grant covers several types of assistance. “We can strategically provide financial aid, pay their rent, repairs for their car, for instance,” Mijares said. “It has to be a justifiable expense that will immediately relieve stress and change the outcome.”
As well, the grant can provide funding for therapy if the family expresses a need. “If they are not on Medicaid, we can pay for therapy,” Mijares said. “It's a generous grant. The true success of this program is seeing a reduction in re-referrals to DSS.”
With the expansion of Medicaid in Colorado under the Affordable Care Act, 700 individuals have signed on to the health-care benefit for people with low incomes. “That has helped families access other resources,” Mauthe said. “We can refer more people to some of the therapies that weren't under Medicaid in the past.”
The launch date is in conjunction with April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. “We really work hard trying to engage families but this program is one tool we have to help them,” Mauthe said. “It's leveraging resources in a collaborative way.”