Steamboat Springs Horizons Specialized Services officials say they have opened a new group home and renovated a site for their Milestones day program thanks to the mill levy passed by voters in November.
The mill levy raises $857,000 a year for Horizons, a nonprofit organization that provides services to people with developmental disabilities in five counties in Northwest Colorado. However, the mill levy funds can be used only on programs that serve Routt County.
"It's really important for the taxpayers to know where their money is going, and that it is being well spent," said Kay Borvansky, Horizons' resources development coordinator and public relations marketing staffer. "And to know how valuable and important it is to a vulnerable population who would otherwise be impacted negatively without the support."
Horizons has opened a new group home, and the organization may open another one this fall. The Milestones program has been enhanced, and Horizons has provided more training and pay raises for staff, officials said. The organization also has been able to take more clients off the waiting list for services - so more people now are benefiting from services.
"The funding helped us to create new spaces for people who were really waiting on the waiting list," Borvansky said. "The mill levy has helped enable us to ensure that none of the services will go away for people who need them."
"We've focused a lot of energy on training and orientation for new employees as well as ongoing training for current employees," said Susan Mizen, executive director of Horizons. "We couldn't continue to pay the low salaries we've been paying our counselors."
Horizons also provides early intervention for infants and toddlers who have been identified as having delayed or developmental disabilities.
"It's critical for those children to get early intervention therapy because, at that point, they are little sponges that benefit from occupation, physical and speech therapies," Borvansky said. "We won't turn away any child, even if there is no funding."
The Milestones day program has seen the most significant change since the mill levy passed. Horizons is expanding its Milestones facility to accommodate the needs of its clients, said Ginny Cannon, the Milestones day program coordinator.
"Milestones strives to provide for the whole person with regard to mental, physical and emotional health," Cannon said. "We work on all kinds of daily living skills in the mornings, and in the afternoon, we facilitate community integration.
"Our commitment is to serve every individual who is needing and wanting services," Cannon said. "There are different levels of support based on each person's needs."
Clients develop skills regarding money management, personal maintenance, social skills, community awareness, attention span, self-advocacy, behavior and coping skills, cooking skills and emergency response.
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