2 child welfare supervisors fired

Two longtime Mesa County Department of Human Services supervisors who had nearly 60 years’ worth of work experience between them have been fired, marking another shake-up within the department.

Treva Houck, director of the Family and Childrens’ Services Division, and Mark Neujahr, a child-welfare supervisor, were terminated Friday by Department of Human Services Director Tracey Garchar.

Garchar said Monday the firings reflect his belief that the department needs to change the way it handles child-welfare cases.

“I think overall as the new leader of Human Services, across the board, we are trying to identify and employ strong leaders who support and encourage staff who serve our clients as effectively and efficiently as possible,” he said.

Garchar said Human Services officials need to strike a balance between recognizing areas of concern in instances where a child may be at risk and actually intervening with a family and removing a child from the home.

He said he wants to emphasize providing in-home services to families before case workers are compelled to remove a child. In instances in which children are removed, he said Human Services needs to determine what services are needed and provide those services more quickly to reduce the amount of time children and their families are in the Human Services system.

Garchar said the changes he plans to implement relate to $1.5 million in child-welfare program cuts sought by commissioners. The former head of Human Services, Len Stewart, was fired in November after commissioners say he failed to reduce the budget.

Garchar said he and Stewart parted ways on the changes and budget reductions.

“He didn’t believe it could be done, and I believe with the staff we have that we can do this,” Garchar said.

Houck has an unlisted phone number and couldn’t be reached for comment Monday. A message left with Neujahr late Monday afternoon wasn’t immediately returned.

Houck had been employed with Mesa County since 1977, while Neujahr started with the county in 1987.


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