Summit Human Services honored with state award |

Summit Human Services honored with state award

Colorado Department of Human Services Director Reggie Bicha presents a 2017 C-Stat Distinguished Performer Award to Joanne Sprouse, director of the Summit County Department of Human Services during a ceremony at the Summit County Medical Office Building on Monday, August 13.
Sawyer D’Argonne / Summit Daily News

The Colorado Department of Human Services honored the Summit County Department of Human Services on Monday with a 2017 C-Stat Distinguished Performer Award, recognizing the county for their work assisting families and individuals in the fields of child care assistance, child welfare, medical and financial assistance, and more.

The ceremony, held at the Summit Medical Office Building, included a brief presentation by CDHS director Reggie Bicha, who lauded Summit’s performance in several areas over recent years.

“Summit has been one of our better performers as we look at C-Stat for several years now,” said Bicha, referring to the system the state uses to measure performances from human services programs around the Colorado. C-Stat helps human services focus less on bureaucracy and more on results. “They have very progressive leadership, they’re community oriented and always wanting to work with other partners in unique and strategic ways. They really are one of our lead counties in human services.”

Bicha isn’t wrong. Summit County’s Human Services Department took home its first Distinguished Performer Award in 2016, and ranked 11th out of 64 counties in Colorado for 2017 performance.

“I think it says a lot about the staff that are doing the work and their level of commitment, training, understanding and willingness to apply all of that.” — Reggie BiachaColorado Department of Human Services director

Human services departments across the state are required to send in monthly data reports and must be able to hit 75 percent of their goals throughout the year to qualify for the award. Data points change every year, but include 21 items such as timeliness of responding to reports, timeliness of launching investigations and more to generally determine the quality and efficiency of customer care. This year Summit County was able to hit 82.4 percent of its goals, well above the standard.

Highlights from last year include the department’s work in economic security measures (food assistance, Colorado Works applications, child support, etc.) where they met their goals in every measure.

“Not to get too lost in all the data, this is really important because it shows that we have a high efficiency rate with our customers, and the services we’re being recognized for are all important social safety nets,” said Joanne Sprouse, director of Summit County Human Services. “So we really made a concerted effort to make ourselves available to people, cut through the red tape and get people seen in a timely manner whether they need food assistance, financial help or something else.”

Sprouse is responsible for building the now multiple award-winning department, but she chalks its success up to a culture of respect and understanding in the office.

“As the director, why I’m so proud is the culture and the manner in which we treat the people coming in,” said Sprouse. “Everyone has difficult times in their lives, and to see them walking through the hall and feeling welcome is amazing. It’s not all about the statistical data, it’s about treating people well. This might be the first time someone ever reaches out to an organization for help and by making them feel welcome and important maybe they’ll have the strength to reach out to advocates (for) other organizations. It’s not just about them coming through our program.”

While reaching 75 percent of goals seems reasonable, the bar is set extremely high. Only 20 counties were given the Distinguished Performer Award for last year, and Summit is one of only eight counties to receive the award in both 2016 and 2017.

“I think it says a lot about the staff that are doing the work and their level of commitment, training, understanding and willingness to apply all of that,” said Bicha. “The staff and elected officials have made it a priority to make certain staff have the resources and expertise they need, which is critically important for their ability to perform at the top.”

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