Monday, February 26, 2018

Many La Plata County residents eligible for federal aid aren’t enrolled

Federal and state aid programs aimed at meeting the needs of the poorest residents in La Plata County are not reaching many of those who are eligible. Enrollment varies widely across federal- and state-funded programs designed to provide child care, food assistance, cash benefits and health care needs in La Plata County, according to a recent analysis by the Colorado Center on Law and Policy and Hunger Free Colorado. The online Gap Map shows disparities between enrollment and eligibility; it is meant to spark conversations about how to manage county spending.

La Plata County is ranked among the worst counties in Colorado for program access, according to data based mostly on average caseload numbers from 2014 to 2016. The analysis focused on the largest basic human services provided, such as Medicaid, Colorado Child Care Assistance Program, Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), and Colorado Works (formerly known as welfare).

Child careIn La Plata County, enrollment in the state’s child care assistance program is 9 percent – the lowest enrollment rate among all the programs in the county. The program provides child care assistance to families with children younger than 13 and has low enrollment statewide, said Martha Johnson, director of the La Plata County Department of Human Services. She expects bills from the Colorado Legislature will help revamp the program and add funding for child care, she said. Read More From The Durango Herald...