Rio Grande BOCC hears social services update

DEL NORTE—  Rio Grande Social Service Director Jody Kern gave an updated report to the Rio Grande County Commissioners on Jan. 31 during their end of month meeting.

Kern began by stating that her department would no longer be working with the Crossroads Turning Points program based out of Alamosa. “This is due to the Valley counties no longer contracting with Crossroads with the Signal Contract. They will continue to offer their detox services to the Valley and we will help in any way we can,” said Kern. 

The counties will continue to receive the Additional Family Service (AFS) funds from the Office of Behavioral Health which are usually used for substance abuse and will now be used for inpatient services with possible other entities. Kern continued her update announcing that the county’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was approved for an additional six years, providing much needed health insurance assistance to families in the Valley. According to the program description, “CHIP provides low-cost health coverage to children in families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid. In some states, CHIP covers pregnant women. Each state offers CHIP coverage and works closely with its state Medicaid program.”

Kern also stated that the state’s requirements for food assistance for seniors may change in the future allowing for more people to qualify for the program.

According to Kern, there are currently two different federal poverty levels (FPL) of broad-based categorical eligibility at 200 percent for seniors and disabled individuals, and 130 percent for the rest of the population for food assistance. This means that the percentage of poverty per household would decrease and the eligibility for aid would increase. The Colorado Department of Human Services was made aware of the eligibility levels and are wanting to make them the same for everyone, rather than a percentage for seniors and a different percentage for the rest of the population by raising the 130 percent eligibility to match the 200 percent eligibility.

Kern explained that, “Counties don’t want to see the eligibility levels for seniors and disabled individuals decreased, however they want to ensure they have the funding necessary to accommodate an increased workload. Counties want to see an increase in the county administration allocation to accommodate any increase in workload. 

Counties are also concerned that the state is bumping up against its federal cap, which could mean that counties could be responsible for more than 20 percent of spending on the food assistance program. As long as the FPL stays at the 200 percent, seniors will not lose any funding; if they would go to the 130 they would lose funding, and no one is in support of this. Everyone however wants to make sure there is funding to do this.”

Commissioners thanked Kern for her continued work on the topic and asked that they be updated if anything changes.


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