Colorado West Regional Mental Health to take $500,000 hit

By MIKE WIGGINS
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Officials with the Western Slope’s pre-eminent mental-health-services provider say Gov. Bill Ritter’s planned budget cuts will eliminate a program aimed at helping juvenile delinquents avoid re-offending.

Sharon Raggio, chief executive officer of Colorado West Regional Mental Health, said the nonprofit organization will lose about $500,000 in funding as part of the governor’s plans to shore up a $320 million budget shortfall this year. The organization serves 10 western Colorado counties.

A little more than half of that $500,000 was used to fund a program for juvenile offenders. The program arranged mental health services for kids who had been detained in the Division of Youth Corrections, Raggio said.

She said the program served 95 children last year. Only three were recommitted to the Division of Youth Corrections.

Raggio said the balance of the $500,000 in cuts will come from a 1.5 percent cut in hospital provider rates.

“It’s unfortunate,” she said. “We value being part of the community and being of value to our service area. We’re going to have to figure out how to maintain a level of service and absorb these cuts.”

Len Stewart, director of the Mesa County Department of Human Services, said he feared the department would suffer a 10 percent cut in funding. This round of cuts, though, largely preserved human services programs.

“For the major things, we do provide food stamps or help people who are out of work.

We’re pretty much still able to deliver those at the same level,” he said.


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