DIVIDE • Community Partnership Family Resource Center received national recognition last month for its role in reducing expenses in Teller County.
The honor highlights the connection between societal turmoil and finances when it comes to helping families overcome obstacles.
The return-on-investment study by Omni International and Casey Family Programs found that for every $1 invested in the center in 2018, the county’s Department of Human Services saved an estimated $2.92.
“The Family Resource Center does a lot of work with families to prevent them from entering the child welfare system,” said Jodi Mijares, Community Partnership’s executive director. “That cost savings is reflected in the study.”
As well, Mijares added, the study shows a 63% decrease in the rate of child abuse in Teller County. The reduction is the result of the formal partnership between the resource center, a nonprofit organization, and the county’s Department of Human Services.
“There’s a high level of trust in the county; the community trusts the organization,” Mijares said. “And the county trusts and depends on the support services we provide.”
Community Partnership programs are designed to reduce stress on parents by giving them tools such as education and support. “As a result, the incidents of child abuse and domestic violence will go down,” Mijares said.
The agency and the organization have collaborated in the past with programs that provide responses in crisis situations.
“We definitely see their perspective of being a nonprofit, although our clients aren’t always voluntary,” said Kim Mauthe, executive director of DHS.
For instance, families who are struggling may begin services at DHS but then move on to the Community Partnership, Mauthe said. “We intervene at a little bit higher level of issues but our interactions earlier are much more beneficial for families going on to Community Partnership.”
Because of the collaboration, the study’s results present opportunities for funding for Community Partnership. “Because they’re a nonprofit, they don’t have a lot of hoops to jump through and I support that,” Mauthe said.
An auxiliary benefit for the agency and the organization is the collaboration begun several years ago. “When COVID hit, we just naturally became leaders in the human-services section of emergency response,” Mijares said.
The coordinated response to providing services during the pandemic included the Aspen Mine Center, Woodland Park Senior Organization and Teller Senior Coalition. “This reflects a community that works really well together,” Mijares said. “When emergency happens, we are ready to go.”
Teller County and Orange County, California were the only two counties in the nation to be selected for the study. In Orange County, the study showed every dollar invested in a family resource center resulted in $3.65 of savings for the child welfare system.
Teller County was in the study due to a recommendation by the state’s human services agency. “Obviously, through this report, on the state level Teller County has a reputation for working well together,” Mijares said.
“That’s the moral of the story; the way we work together has given us this level of attention.”