The El Paso County Department of Human Services' leader plans to retire in 2017, and a social services veteran will take his place.

Rick Bengtsson, 62, will retire on March 1, 2017 as the department's executive director after eight years at the helm, El Paso County officials announced Monday.

"It's time to kind of step aside and let some younger people take over," Bengtsson said.

The decision ends Bengtsson's nearly 40-year career in social services - most of which was spent in El Paso County.

Bengtsson began his career in 1977 with the program Volunteer in Service to America, or VISTA, where he worked in the San Luis Valley helping migrant farmworker families. He also spent time working at a detox facility in Alamosa.

He spent several years in the 1980s and early 1990s at a social services agency in Florida, but returned to Colorado in 1992 as a child protection caseworker for the El Paso County Department of Human Services.

He worked his way up to the department's interim executive director in 2007, and assumed the roll full-time in 2009.

Julie Krow, the state's deputy executive director of community partnerships, has been appointed by EL Paso County Administrator Henry Yankowski to fill the post.

Krow currently oversees the organizations and contractors that serve the Colorado Department of Human Services. She also is president of the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators.

Krow will start Nov. 14, and she will shadow Bengtsson until he retires next year.

"We're fortunate that she showed an interest in wanting to work here," Bengtsson said. "We'll have a good transition."

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Public safety net reporter

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