Department of Human Services
ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY POVERTY REDUCTION TASK FORCE
09:19 AM -- Department of Human Services
Representative Kefalas provided remarks regarding the information the task force was seeking to address during the departmental presentations. Ms. Karen Beye, Executive Director, and Ms. Sara Marsh, Legislative and Fiscal Analyst for the Colorado Works Program, Department of Human Services, briefed the committee on the department's programs that address poverty and economic opportunity issues. Committee members received a briefing document summarizing the programs (Attachment A). Ms. Beye walked the task force through the briefing document, discussing the department's offices and programs, including programs providing assistance in the area of home heating, refugee services, and youth corrections.
Ms. Beye continued to brief the committee on programs administered by the Department of Human Services, including programs that serve youth, those with behavioral health issues, and those in need of assistance with housing. Ms. Beye also discussed the mission and objectives of the department and its programs as it seeks to serve certain populations, and discussed certain issues facing low-income persons. Ms. Beye then discussed how certain programs, such as the food stamp program, serve vulnerable populations.
Ms. Beye continued to brief the task force on the economic opportunity and poverty alleviation programs administered by the Department of Human Services, focusing on collaborative efforts between the department and other entities. Ms. Beye responded to questions regarding plans on the part of the department to address proposed state budget cuts, including a proposal by the Governor to institute furlough days for state employees. Ms. Beye responded to further questions regarding the proposed closures of or curtailment of services at a number of department-administered institutions that provide mental health services.
Discussion continued regarding the potential closure of a number of mental health institutions. Ms. Beye responded to questions regarding the number of programs administered by the Department of Human Services, and the amount of funding committed to the programs. Ms. Beye responded to further questions regarding the impact of Referendum C, passed during the 2005 election, on the department's budget. Ms. Beye returned to briefing the committee on the department's programs, including Colorado Works/TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families).
Ms. Beye continued to brief the task force on Colorado Works/TANF, and then discussed other programs administered by the department in conjunction with other entities through the Strategic Use Fund. Ms. Beye also discussed the issues of the use of metrics to measure poverty, how to measure the success rates of programs, and the need for collaboration between entities that address poverty. Ms. Beye responded to questions regarding the education-related programs administered by the Department of Human Resources, and the subject of meaningful data reporting as it relates to serving low-income children. Ms. Beye responded to further questions regarding programs administered by multiple agencies that target the same populations and issues.
Ms. Beye responded to questions regarding programs administered by the department that target teen pregnancy, and past and current efforts to evaluate program successes, including TANF. Discussion ensued regarding the potential for collaboration between the City and County of Denver and the Department of Human Services. Discussion followed regarding the status of efforts to improve the Colorado Benefits Management System. Discussion turned to the self-sufficiency standard and its use in conjunction with the TANF Program.
Discussion continued regarding the use of the self-sufficiency standard to measure program success, and the potential for using the standard to more efficiently use poverty reduction resources. Discussion followed regarding the ability to track TANF clients to measure program success.
The committee recessed.