The State of Colorado and its counties spend many millions of dollars each year to address the needs of residents facing homelessness, unemployment, aging issues, drug and alcohol addiction, incarceration, domestic and youth violence. More people are "falling through the cracks" due to financial needs and programmatic failures. Federal entitlement programs administered, and partially funded by the state and counties, provide a minimal safety net for those in the gravest need. However, I believe it is the responsibility of both state and local government to bolster these basic programs so that all in need in our communities receive assistance to lead self-sufficient and productive lives. Not only is it the moral thing to do, but it is also the smart thing to do for our economy and for our quality of life.
I believe that the best approaches to address these needs are those that rely on prevention, early intervention, and locally based coordinated services that rely on proven best practices. In Boulder County, we have developed numerous approaches that focus on coordinated case management for early intervention with families, children, and seniors. Local governments work closely with local nonprofit agencies on innovative programs, which have won national awards, have kept vulnerable populations out of costly jails and institutions and provided richer supportive services. These programs ensure that people with human service needs get onto the path of finding secure housing and employment. At the same time, these efforts have saved the state and the county millions of dollars. Boulder County examples:
· IMPACT (Integrated Management Partnership for Adolescent and Child Community Treatment) provides wrap-around services to at-risk adolescents
· The PACE (Partnership for Active Community Engagement) Program is a collaborative project that successfully diverts mentally ill and substance abusing offenders from jail through the provision of integrated services and treatment. The program has shown dramatic and significant savings in jail costs, reduction in jail beds used, and improvement in offender status in the community. These are proven results as measured by outcomes such as employment, enrollment for disability benefits, and substance abuse recovery. Between 2000 and 2005, the cost of jail days for this population was reduced from $1.8 million to $104,000, a 95% reduction. Because of this and similar programs, Boulder County has one of the lowest out-of-home placement rates of non-violent offenders in the state.
· Our new Integrated Treatment Court is highly successful in keeping substance-abusing probation violators out of jail through close monitoring and day treatment programs.
The State Legislature has many opportunities to support similar programs, at the state and local level. I strongly support:
· Working closely with the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) and the Governor to encourage coordination of human service delivery at the state and local level, including services provided by nonprofit agencies
· Funding of least-restrictive, safe and appropriate placements in community settings, in ways that keep families intact
· Establishing evidence-based best practices that have been proven to work in helping vulnerable populations achieve economic stability, community integration, and community safety
· Promoting local and state service and funding initiatives that place high priority on coordinated services, prevention, early intervention, early childhood education, and affordable and accessible childcare
· Providing a strong safety net for families and children
I am very proud to have worked in a Boulder County, which along with its nonprofits, has developed innovative, cost-effective approaches to serving our residents who would otherwise have been placed in higher-cost institutions or jails at taxpayer expense. I support these approaches to providing compassionate and cost-effective human services that work.
Copyright © 2008, Dickey Lee Hullinghorst