There is a wide array of services that support youths in Montezuma County, but services are not always connected.
Representatives of local organizations met Tuesday to address that challenge, giving presentations on the services they provide and encouraging collaboration among the groups.
“And then, here are our gaps,” said Bobbi Lock, director of the Montezuma County Public Health Department. “Because there are always gaps.”
According to Lock, the meeting came after a discussion of youth behavioral problems during a Montezuma-Cortez school board meeting.
Kicking off the talks at the Montezuma County Annex, leaders from the Piñon Project presented some of their programs and volunteer opportunities. While the nonprofit provides services for youths and families, much of its focus is on preventative work such as mentorship programs, school site support and outdoor opportunities.
“I want to concentrate on prevention, intervention and postvention,” said Chi Patel, Piñon’s new suicide prevention coordinator.
Other groups at the meeting included the School Community Youth Collaborative, Communities That Care, Montezuma Inspire Coalition and Axis Health System.
Representatives from the school-based Four Corners Youth Clinics of Dolores and Southwest Open School, and the Southwest School Based Health Clinic at Montezuma-Cortez High School also attended. Both highlighted their clinics’ holistic, “whole child” model for care, and the value of having clinics on a school site.
“We screen for high-risk behaviors, we screen for tobacco, alcohol, drug use,” said Teresa Brown-Sanchez, a family nurse practitioner at M-CHS. “We screen for sexual activity behaviors. We screen for dental. ... “We’re looking at everything and trying to meet that kid where we are.”
Presentations closed out with Brian Kelly of the Senate Bill 94 Youth and Families Initiative. SB 94, which was passed in the 1990s, aims to provide alternatives to youth incarceration and has been implemented in each of Colorado’s 22 judicial districts.
Last fiscal year, the group served 48 kids, Kelly said.
“Sometimes I’m at a loss of what to do,” he said. “We have a lot of great programs in this area, but follow-through with those programs is not consistent.”
Going back to the cooperative purpose of the event, at the meeting’s conclusion, several representatives began posing ideas for collaboration – and requests for support.
Some collaboration needs suggested included transportation services from Dolores, help on reentry programs from Axis, and even a possible lunch program at the high school for teens lacking social connections.
Overall, attendees highlighted the benefits of being aware of the other programs and organizations in the area.
“Things change, programs change, people and faces change, and knowing what is out there is a big help,” Kelly said.