News

Gherardini promoted to Deputy Executive Director of Operations for Colorado Department of Human Services

posted Mar 21, 2017, 8:10 AM by Nicole Grabowski - CDHS   [ updated Mar 21, 2017, 9:03 AM ]

Tony Gherardini
DENVER (3/21/2017) – Tony Gherardini has been promoted to Deputy Executive Director of Operations for the Colorado Department of Human Services, Executive Director Reggie Bicha announced today. He begins his
new role on April 3. 

As Deputy Executive Director of Operations, Gherardini will be responsible for oversight of the Office of Administrative Solutions and the Office of Performance and Strategic Outcomes, as well as the CDHS facilities that operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week: three Regional Centers, four Colorado Veterans Community Living Centers, the Division of Youth Corrections, and two Mental Health Institutes. 

“Tony is a proven leader who cares deeply about the people we serve and the taxpayers who support them,” Bicha said. “His military experience and long career in public service have more than prepared him for this new
position.”

Gherardini has worked at the Department in June 2014, and has been the director of the Office of Administrative Solutions (OAS) since February 2016. As the director of OAS, he was responsible for overseeing
CDHS’ internal operations, including employee relations, business technology, facilities management, and finance and accounting. From 2014 to 2016, Gherardini was the Department’s Emergency Manager. In that role, he worked to establish continuity of operations and served as the lead of emergency preparedness activities.

“Since joining the Department in 2014, I’ve been continuously impressed by the incredibly professional and dedicated staff at CDHS,” Gherardini said. “I’m looking forwarded to a continued collaboration with our employees, as well as with county partners, community advocates and legislators. Above all, I’m excited and humbled for this opportunity to serve the most vulnerable citizens of Colorado in this new capacity.”

Prior to joining CDHS, Gherardini was a member of the City of Lakewood Police Department, including two years as a detective in the Crimes Against Children Unit. He is a military veteran, and served in Afghanistan from 2010-11 as a military police officer.

Gherardini holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Colorado Denver, and bachelor’s degree in political science from Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

Thomas Haro named director of Division of Disability Determination Services

posted Mar 15, 2017, 2:40 PM by Nicole Grabowski - CDHS   [ updated Mar 15, 2017, 2:40 PM ]

Thomas Haro
DENVER (March 15, 2017) — The Office of Community Access and Independence within the Colorado Department of Human Services has named Thomas Haro as the new director of the Division of Disability Determination Services (DDS). He has served as acting director since January 2017.

Prior to assuming the role of acting director, Haro had served as deputy director of support services for DDS since June 2013. In his role as deputy director, he worked with the leadership team to implement efficiencies, cost-saving methods and partnerships to improve key agency metrics by 50 percent. He was part of a four-person leadership team that won the coveted Commissioner Citation Team Award, the highest award available from the commissioner of the Social Security Administration.

"I am excited to appoint Thomas Haro to the position of division director of Disability Determination Services,” said Mark Wester, director of the Office of Community Access and Independence. “Thomas has demonstrated strong leadership with his team, and at the state and national level. As he steps into the division director position, he will lead his team to continue its focus on effectively serving the people of Colorado."

As director, Haro will have direct oversight of the DDS Division, which, in partnership with the Social Security Administration, makes the medical determination for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims. This division employs 50 disability examiners, 25 physicians and 40 administrative and clerical staff. The division handles more than 40,000 disability claims per year. The mission statement of DDS is to make accurate and timely disability decisions for the residents of Colorado in a courteous, cost-conscious manner following Social Security disability rules and regulations. 

“My vision is to lead DDS to greatness with innovative leadership, a shared spirit of performance management, teamwork and accountability to the citizens we serve,” Haro said.

CDHS recognizes Arapahoe County for outstanding performance

posted Mar 15, 2017, 1:46 PM by Nicole Grabowski - CDHS

DENVER (March 15, 2017) - The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) today recognized the Arapahoe County Department of Human Services for its performance in delivering food and cash assistance.

CDHS announced in January that the Denver District Court had terminated a long-running settlement agreement after CDHS, working with its county partners, significantly improved its performance in delivering food and cash assistance benefits. Eight counties including Arapahoe are being recognized with C-Stat awards for exceptional performance.

“If you and your children are hungry, you need to be certain that when you come to a county agency, you’ll find the right services – and quickly – to help you get back on your feet,” said Reggie Bicha, executive director of CDHS. “This award recognizes the counties that are among the best of the best at helping people get the help they need, when they need it.”

In 2004, plaintiffs filed the lawsuit (originally styled as Hawthorne-Bey v. Henneberry and Beye, but ending as Davis v. Birch and Bicha) alleging the length of time it took the department to process applications for food and cash assistance did not comply with law. The parties settled the lawsuit in 2008. The terms of the settlement agreement required the state to process new and expedited applications in a timely manner 95 percent of the time for at least 12 consecutive months. The settlement also required the state to process redeterminations -- which establish whether individuals currently receiving assistance are still eligible to receive benefits -- in a timely manner 95 percent of the time for at least nine consecutive months. Performance has exceeded all of these requirements, thanks to strong improvements in counties such as Arapahoe. 

Arapahoe County has processed:
  • At least 95 percent of their new Colorado Works (cash assistance) applications timely since March 2012
  • At least 95 percent of their redetermination Colorado Works applications timely since January 2016
  • At least 95 percent of their new food assistance applications timely since January 2012
  • At least 95 percent of their expedited food assistance applications timely in every month but one since October 2015
  • At least 95 percent of their redetermination food assistance applications timely in all but two months since November 2015
Overall, the counties process new food assistance applications in a timely manner 98.59 percent of the time, up from 70.36 percent in October 2007, the date when CDHS started tracking data for the settlement. The counties process expedited applications in a timely manner 98.01 percent of the time, up from 46.17 percent in October 2007, and redetermination applications in a timely manner
96.87 percent of the time, improved from 43.32 percent in October 2007.

For Colorado Works cash assistance, the counties are processing applications in a timely manner 99.33 percent of the time, up from 82.7 percent in October 2007. Colorado Works redeterminations are being processed in a timely manner 96.50 percent of the time, improved from 59.6 percent in October 2007.

Applying for food and cash assistance programs can be done online, over the phone, by mail or in person at numerous assistance sites statewide. For more information, visit https://coloradopeak.secure.force.com.

Colorado Community Response program expands to Denver County

posted Feb 28, 2017, 1:31 PM by Nicole Grabowski - CDHS   [ updated Feb 28, 2017, 1:33 PM ]

DENVER (February 28, 2017) — A program that provides support services to families is now available in Denver County following a new partnership between the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) and Denver Human Services (DHS) designed to prevent incidents
of child abuse and neglect. 

The Colorado Community Response program is a nearly $3 million CDHS effort that aims to provide additional resources to families who are not currently involved in the child welfare system, yet may need services to reduce the potential for such intervention. With the
addition of Denver County this year, the program is now in 29 counties in Colorado. Denver is the first county to provide matching dollars – $50,000 – for the program. 

“We’re excited to engage families in Denver County and help prevent child abuse and neglect,” said Aaron Miller, Colorado Community Response project manager for CDHS. “This program helps bring positive change to families’ lives through increased economic security
and improved family functioning, strengthening families' protective factors, building social capital and connecting to concrete resources. We’re so honored that Denver County requested the program and is helping to fund it locally.”

The program offers comprehensive voluntary family-focused services, including family engagement, case management, resource referral, home visits, collaborative goal-setting, financial coaching and one-time financial assistance. Services are offered to families who have been reported to Child Protective Services for child abuse or neglect but were subsequently screened out or received a closed assessment. The program is a part of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s multi-faceted approach to child welfare, called “Keeping Kids Safe and
Families Healthy 2.0.”

“Children ages 5 and under are some of the most vulnerable in our community and are often most at-risk of being subjected to abuse or neglect; however, by giving parents access to simple supports in the home we can change the course of their young lives for the better,” said DHS Executive Director Don Mares. “We are pleased to partner with the Colorado Department of Human Services to implement the Colorado Community Response pilot program in Denver to further strengthen our work to connect parents of young children and expecting mothers to resources that help them grow and thrive as parents and help their kids lead healthy, successful lives.”

Colorado Community Response began as three-year pilot program in 2013. A final evaluation of the pilot will be released in summer 2017. Services began in Denver County in January. 

CDHS recognizes Logan County for outstanding performance

posted Feb 24, 2017, 3:41 PM by Elizabeth Owens - CDHS

DENVER (February 24, 2017) - The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) today recognized the Logan County Department of Human Services for its performance in completing child welfare assessments and in delivering food and cash assistance.

Logan County has completed its child welfare assessments within 60 days more than 90 percent of the time since January 2015, with the last 11 months at 100 percent timeliness. When a county receives a report that meets the criteria of child abuse or neglect, it completes a child welfare assessment to evaluate whether evidence of abuse or neglect exists. Completing assessments within 60 days ensures prompt attention to cases, and keeps the child welfare data system up to date.

Logan County is one of six counties statewide being recognized with a C-Stat award for superior performance in closing its child welfare assessments. Statewide, county performance on this measure has improved by about 40 percent since January 2011.

Additionally, eight counties, including Logan, are being recognized with C-Stat awards for exceptional performance in food and cash assistance delivery. CDHS announced in January that the Denver District Court had terminated a long-running settlement agreement after CDHS, working with its county partners, significantly improved its performance in delivering food and cash assistance benefits.

“Everyone plays a role in keeping Colorado’s children safe. Thanks to the county’s efforts to improve timeliness of the assessment process, they can now act more quickly when children need help,” said Reggie Bicha, executive director of CDHS. “If you and your children are hungry, you need to be certain that when you come to a county agency, you’ll find the right services – and quickly – to help you get back on your feet. A C-Stat award recognizes the counties that are among the best of the best at helping people get the help they need, when they need it.”

In 2004, plaintiffs filed the lawsuit (originally styled as Hawthorne-Bey v. Henneberry and Beye, but ending as Davis v. Birch and Bicha) alleging the length of time it took the department to process applications for food and cash assistance did not comply with law. The parties settled the lawsuit in 2008. The terms of the settlement agreement required the state process new and expedited applications in a timely manner 95 percent of the time for at least 12 consecutive months. The settlement also required the state to process redeterminations -- which establish whether individuals currently receiving assistance are still eligible to receive benefits -- in a timely manner 95 percent of the time for at least nine consecutive months. Performance has exceeded all of these requirements, thanks to strong improvements in counties such as Logan.

Logan County has processed:

      at least 95 percent of their new Colorado Works (cash assistance) applications timely in all but one month since April 2011 

      all redetermination Colorado Works applications timely since March 2015

      at least 95 percent of their new food assistance applications timely since October 2011

      at least 95 percent of their expedited food assistance applications timely since August 2015

      at least 95 percent of their redetermination food assistance applications timely since May 2014

Overall, the counties process new food assistance applications in a timely manner 98.9 percent of the time, up from 70.36 percent in October 2007, the date when CDHS started tracking data for the settlement. The counties process expedited applications in a timely manner 97.93 percent of the time, up from 46.17 percent in October 2007, and redetermination applications in a timely manner 97.89 percent of the time, improved from 43.32 percent in October 2007.

For Colorado Works cash assistance, the counties process applications in a timely manner 99.37 percent of the time, up from 82.7 percent in October 2007. Colorado Works redeterminations are being processed in a timely manner 97.10 percent of the time, improved from 59.6 percent in October 2007.

Applying for food and cash assistance programs can be done online, over the phone, by mail or in person at numerous assistance sites statewide. For more information, visit https://coloradopeak.secure.force.com.


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ABOUT C-STAT

C-Stat is a performance management approach that allows CDHS to better focus on and improve performance outcomes that enhance people’s lives. By identifying areas of focus, CDHS can determine what is working and what needs improvement. By measuring the impact of day-to-day efforts, CDHS is able to make more informed, collaborative decisions to align its efforts and resources to affect positive change for the people it serves.

CDHS recognizes Sedgwick County for outstanding performance

posted Feb 24, 2017, 3:08 PM by Elizabeth Owens - CDHS

DENVER (February 24, 2017) - The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) today recognized the Sedgwick County Department of Human Services for its performance in delivering food and cash assistance.

CDHS announced in January that the Denver District Court had terminated a long-running settlement agreement after CDHS, working with its county partners, significantly improved its performance in delivering food and cash assistance benefits. Eight counties including Sedgwick are being recognized with C-Stat awards for exceptional performance.

“If you and your children are hungry, you need to be certain that when you come to a county agency, you’ll find the right services – and quickly – to help you get back on your feet,” said Reggie Bicha, executive director of CDHS. “This award recognizes the counties that are among the best of the best at helping people get the help they need, when they need it.”

In 2004, plaintiffs filed the lawsuit (originally styled as Hawthorne-Bey v. Henneberry and Beye, but ending as Davis v. Birch and Bicha) alleging the length of time it took the department to process applications for food and cash assistance did not comply with law. The parties settled the lawsuit in 2008. The terms of the settlement agreement required the state process new and expedited applications in a timely manner 95 percent of the time for at least 12 consecutive months. The settlement also required the state to process redeterminations -- which establish whether individuals currently receiving assistance are still eligible to receive benefits -- in a timely manner 95 percent of the time for at least nine consecutive months. Performance has exceeded all of these requirements, thanks to strong improvements in counties such as Sedgwick.

Sedgwick County has processed:

·         All new Colorado Works (cash assistance) applications timely since March 2009

·         Redetermination Colorado Works applications timely in all but two months since September 2008

·         At least 95 percent of new food assistance applications timely since December 2014

·         All expedited food assistance applications within seven days since February 2014

·         All redetermination food assistance applications timely in all but six months since January 2014

Overall, the counties process new food assistance applications in a timely manner 98.9 percent of the time, up from 70.36 percent in October 2007, the date when CDHS started tracking data for the settlement. The counties process expedited applications in a timely manner 97.93 percent of the time, up from 46.17 percent in October 2007, and redetermination applications in a timely manner 97.89 percent of the time, improved from 43.32 percent in October 2007.

For Colorado Works cash assistance, the counties are processing applications in a timely manner 99.37 percent of the time, up from 82.7 percent in October 2007. Colorado Works redeterminations are being processed in a timely manner 97.10 percent of the time, improved from 59.6 percent in October 2007.

Applying for food and cash assistance programs can be done online, over the phone, by mail or in person at numerous assistance sites statewide. For more information, visit https://coloradopeak.secure.force.com.


                                                                                        ###


ABOUT C-STAT

C-Stat is a performance management approach that allows CDHS to better focus on and improve performance outcomes that enhance people’s lives. By identifying areas of focus, CDHS can determine what is working and what needs improvement. By measuring the impact of day-to-day efforts, CDHS is able to make more informed, collaborative decisions to align its efforts and resources to affect positive change for the people it serves.

Gov. Hickenlooper & Lt. Gov. Lynne welcome refugees at event celebrating their contributions to Colorado

posted Feb 22, 2017, 5:58 PM by Nicole Grabowski - CDHS   [ updated Feb 22, 2017, 6:07 PM ]

Gov. John Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne today welcomed refugees to Colorado during a celebration at Union Station honoring the many contributions refugees make to Colorado. The event, sponsored by Union Station Alliance, brought together 75 refugees – most of whom had arrived in Colorado just weeks or months earlier – from countries including Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic. 

The event also brought together Coloradans who work to support refugees as they begin their new lives, including Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan, as well as leaders of Colorado’s three resettlement agencies: the African Community Center, the International Rescue Commission and Lutheran Family Services.

“It’s an honor to welcome these families to their new home. They have made great sacrifices to be here and spent years navigating the world’s most stringent vetting system. We must recognize the humanity of the world’s refugee crisis,” said Gov. Hickenlooper. “Just a few days ago, we marked the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which led to the internment of thousands of Japanese American citizens in the name of national security. As we reflect on the mistakes of our past, we must also learn from them. If we turn away these refugees, many of whom served beside our troops in combat zones, we risk pushing others all over the world toward terror.”

Historically, Colorado has resettled 2 to 3 percent of all refugees admitted to the United States each year. In 2016, Colorado resettled 1,960 refugees. Until the Trump Administration’s executive order, Colorado had expected 2,195 refugees would resettle in the state in Federal Fiscal Year 2017. The executive order could decrease this number by half.

“Refugees contribute in ways large and small to the fabric of Colorado’s culture and economy. They are the most vetted members of our society and have the same goals all Americans do: to provide for their families, give their kids new opportunities and live safe and peaceful lives,” said Lt. Gov. Lynne. “In most cases, refugees come from war-torn countries. They’ve lost family, friends and loved ones. They don’t choose to be refugees from the only country they’ve known, but they yearn for a new start in this land of opportunity. Most refugees that come to Colorado are reuniting with family. They work in industries that are desperate for labor and start businesses that employ other refugees and Coloradans. Over the last 37 years, Colorado has opened its doors to nearly 60,000 peaceful, law-abiding refugee families. We call on President Trump to rescind his order immediately and let Colorado continue to build a more peaceful, prosperous state.”

Overall, Colorado has been one of the most successful states at helping its recently resettled refugees find work. In Federal Fiscal Year 2016, refugees resettled in Colorado found jobs within 84 days on average. So far in FFY 17, refugees seeking work have found jobs within 61 days on average. One great example of how refugees are contributing to Colorado’s economy is through Sage Hospitality. Since December 1997, the company has employed 458 newly arrived refugees. Sage has hired 36 newly arrived refugees since last October, totaling almost ten percent of all jobs new refugees have gained in recent months.

“Colorado is welcoming and wants us to be here,”said Farduus, a refugee from Somalia who was resettled in Colorado in 2014.“They believe in our contributions, in what we bring to the state and to our economy.”

Persons and families seeking to enter the United States as refugees must successfully clear multiple background checks. These checks are conducted by agencies including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UN), U.S. Resettlement Support Center, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Department of Defense, and Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

Each of these background checks is done independently, and, at any time, an agency can halt a refugee’s application for entry. Federal agencies review biographical and biometric (i.e. iris screens, etc.) information about applicants and ensure their correct identity. They also conduct fingerprinting and DNA checks. It can take months to years to clear the initial UN screening and an average additional two years to clear the U.S. vetting process.

“History is a witness to the contribution of immigrants into making America the greatest nation in the history of mankind. Immigrants make America great, and they make Colorado great, by bringing together the best the world has to offer into the melting pot that drives our innovation, creativity and advancement,” said Neb Asfaw, a Colorado business man and native of Ethiopia, as well as one of Colorado’s leading community organizers within the Ethiopian community.

“We know the value that immigrants have delivered to our economy for generations. We invite people who bring differing perspectives and new ideas because their views lead to more innovation, better solutions and the promise of progress for our region. We take great pride in welcoming newcomers to Colorado, whether our neighbors or colleagues, because Coloradans know good ideas and hard work have been and will continue to be the keys to our success,” said event attendee and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce Kelly Brough.

CDHS recognizes Eagle County for outstanding performance

posted Feb 17, 2017, 3:17 PM by Elizabeth Owens - CDHS

DENVER (February 17, 2017) - The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) has recognized the Eagle County Department of Human Services for their performance in completing child welfare assessments.

Eagle County has completed its child welfare assessments within 60 days on average 97.4 percent of the time since January 2011. When a county receives a report that meets the criteria of child abuse or neglect, it completes a child welfare assessment to evaluate whether evidence of abuse or neglect exists. Completing assessments within 60 days ensures that child welfare caseworkers don’t unnecessarily linger in a family’s life, and keeps the child welfare data system up to date.

“A C-Stat award recognizes the best of the best in Colorado when it comes to timeliness of assessment closure,” said Reggie Bicha, executive director of CDHS. “Everyone plays a role in keeping Colorado’s children safe. Thanks to the county’s efforts to improve timeliness of the assessment process, they can now act more quickly when children need help.”

Eagle County is one of six counties statewide that are being recognized for superior performance in closing its child welfare assessments. Statewide, county performance on this measure has improved by about 40 percent since January 2011.

Colorado Domestic Abuse Fund supports local programs - Taxpayer check-off offers easy way to support domestic violence survivors

posted Feb 17, 2017, 10:48 AM by Nicole Grabowski - CDHS

DENVER (February 17, 2017) — The Colorado Domestic Abuse Fund (CDAF) helped the Colorado Department of Human Services Domestic Violence Program (DVP) provide funding to 47 local domestic violence programs that answered 64,643 crisis calls and served 22,650 adults and children in 2016.

CDAF is a voluntary “check-off” contribution that taxpayers can make on their state income tax form (Line 2 of the Voluntary Contributions Schedule Form 104CH). Coloradans donated more than $175,000 on their 2015 tax returns to the Colorado Domestic Abuse Fund. 

“The state’s tax check-off program is an easy way for taxpayers to give to support a cause that they are passionate about,” said Brooke Ely-Milen, MPA, domestic violence program director. 

“Many rural programs in Colorado do not have the resources to sustain a permanent emergency shelter for survivors of domestic violence and their children. This funding provides a crucial bridge to safety until a survivor can find another permanent, safe location. The availability of emergency motel or hotel vouchers to temporarily house survivors who flee violent homes is just one example of the many ways CDAF supports local programs and services for survivors of domestic violence and their children in Colorado. "

Colorado was the first state in the country to allow taxpayers to make a voluntary contribution to a state program using a portion of their state tax refund. The Colorado Domestic Abuse Fund joined the short list of programs on the state tax return in 1983.

Contributions to CDAF support local domestic violence programs and services such as:
  • 24-hour crisis line services
  • Emergency housing options
  • Support groups, counseling and advocacy
  • Safety planning and information and referrals for victims and their families
  • Community education and prevention efforts
  • Children’s programming and advocacy
To learn more and connect to local domestic violence programs to get help, visit www.domesticabusefund.org

CDHS recognizes Jefferson County for outstanding performance

posted Feb 16, 2017, 2:31 PM by Nicole Grabowski - CDHS

DENVER (February 16, 2017) - The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) has recognized the Jefferson County Department of Human Services for their performance in completing child welfare assessments.

Jefferson County has completed its child welfare assessments within 60 days 90 percent of the time for the last seven months. When a county receives a report that meets the criteria of child abuse or neglect, it completes a child welfare assessment to evaluate whether evidence of abuse or neglect exists. Completing assessments within 60 days ensures that child welfare caseworkers don’t unnecessarily linger in a family’s life, and keeps the child welfare data system up to date. 

“A C-Stat award recognizes the best of the best in Colorado when it comes to timeliness of assessment closure,” said Reggie Bicha, executive director of CDHS. “Everyone plays a role in keeping Colorado’s children safe. Thanks to the county’s efforts to improve timeliness of the assessment process, they can now act more quickly when children need help.”

Jefferson County is one of six counties statewide that are being recognized for superior performance in closing its child welfare assessments. Jefferson County is being recognized for both its current performance and its tremendous improvement in this measure. In January 2011, the county completed child welfare assessments within 60 days about 39 percent of the time. Statewide, county
performance on this measure has improved by about 40 percent since January 2011.

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