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CDHS Connections Newsletter
Connecting People Who Help People
Aug. 18, 2021
COVID-19 vaccines required at 24/7 facilities

Yesterday, CDHS Executive Director Michelle Barnes announced that COVID-19 vaccines will be required at our 24/7 facilities. This decision was not made lightly and is designed to protect the people we care for and serve, as well as one another.

A town hall was held this morning to explain the “why” behind this decision and answer your questions. If you were unable to attend, you can view the video here and below. Another town hall will be held this evening:
  • 8-8:30 p.m. Sign up here. Submit questions anonymously here.
To learn more about the vaccine requirement, including FAQs and a vaccination schedule for each facility, check out our vaccine intranet page.
CDHS leaders answer questions about CDHS's COVID-19 vaccine requirement at 24/7 facilities during the 9 a.m. Aug. 18 town hall. ASL interpretation is provided.
Farewell to a colleague and friend

Many of you knew Linda Davis as the supervisor over the Talent Acquisition (TA) team, a talented colleague and a loyal friend who loved to make people laugh.  
Linda slipped away from us July 28 after fighting bravely to overcome complications resulting from a serious medical condition. Her passing is punctuated by her legacy of unrestrained laughter, her tireless commitment to the well-being of her TA team, and an intense loyalty to her family.  
Linda made significant contributions to reorganizing and streamlining talent acquisition processes and procedures and was instrumental in introducing new time-saving reference checking methodology. She was committed to making CDHS a great place to work and participated on several committees to this end.
Linda was easy to talk to, was always available to help answer questions and indulged many of us in comical stories about the antics of her beloved little terrier and the thievery of her hat-, shoe- and TV-remote-stealing Labrador. Most of all, Linda was exceptionally proud of her family — two children, Sophie and Jack, who recently graduated from college, and her husband, Jon. 
As one of Linda’s staff put it, “Linda was a momma bear for us and was always there for us. We will miss her dearly.”  
May she rest in peace.   
What you can do to support Afghan refugees

In recent days, there has been a lot of attention on Afghanistan. As Taliban fighters have taken the capital, Kabul, thousands have fled their homes, fearing persecution, violence and death. While Colorado is not one of the main destinations for Afghans, our state has long welcomed Afghan refugees and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders.

Learn more about refugees and SIV holders and what you can do to help with this information from Kit Taintor, senior advisor for New American Immigration, Office of the Governor, and the former director of CDHS's Colorado Refugee Services Program
The Belonging Project: Exploring neurodiversity


Hear from your peer

What if anytime you thought of numbers, a mental map of them involuntarily appeared? Can you imagine if certain sounds triggered you to see colors, or if certain words inspired specific tastes? These are just a few manifestations of synesthesia, a neurological condition in which information meant to stimulate one of your senses stimulates several.

Lisa Gibson from the Office of Children, Youth and Families, whose son Elijah has synesthesia, shares information on this rare condition, including how Elijah associates certain words with different tastes. Learn more >>


Ways to get involved

An Introduction to Neurodiversity webinar, 1-2 p.m. Thursday. Presenter Dr. Siva Priya Santhanam from Metropolitan State University of Denver will help define neurodiversity, explore issues of stigma, provide language for discussing this important topic and suggest key workplace accommodations to support neurodivergent individuals.

Register here >>

The Belonging Project Book Club invites all employees to discuss "Divergent Mind: Thriving in a World That Wasn't Designed for You" by Jenara Nerenberg from 1-2 p.m. Aug. 27. While this book focuses on neurodivergent women — those with autism, ADHD, synesthesia and other sensory processing differences — it also explores ways we can all  understand our fundamental differences.

Sign up to join the conversation >>

Share your story

We want to hear from you! We’re looking for contributors to share their stories and insights. Just as our experiences are different, so are the ways we choose to express them. Writing an article or poem, sharing artwork or creating a video are just a few ways you can share your perspective. If you'd like to contribute to one of the monthly themes below, let us know >> 

●  September: Latinx and Hispanic heritage 
●  October: Disability awareness
●  November: Indigenous heritage
●  December: Classism and poverty

About The Belonging Project

The Belonging Project is an initiative by employees, for employees, to create a space where all employees feel a sense of belonging. The group explores specific themes each month and shares them in Connections every week. If you are interested in finding out more, please let us know.
On the Case with OCYF

Two years ago, 24-year-old Marisa Arrieta launched her career as a child welfare caseworker with the Mesa County Department of Human Services. Marisa was born and raised in Grand Junction and earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Colorado Mesa University. She finds deep meaning in serving the community she has called home her whole life.

Marisa was drawn to the job of caseworker because as a child she witnessed firsthand what it was like for a family to encounter the child welfare system when her cousin was removed from their home and eventually adopted by a family member. Marisa knows the difference a caseworker can make in the lives of children and families, and she wanted to help ensure that kids’ voices are heard. “I am here to help families,” said Marisa. “I don’t want to be seen as ‘the system,’ I am someone who connects families with the resources they need.”

Marisa’s favorite part of her job is building relationships with families and children and she finds deep satisfaction in seeing families reunify. She also appreciates her colleagues at Mesa County and the support and comradery she has found with her team.

Aside from the satisfaction and meaning, she finds in her work, Marisa has found that being a caseworker has good job benefits as well including schedule flexibility, health insurance and opportunities to continue her education through regular training.

“There’s no other job out there like the caseworker role,” said Marisa. “Every experience is so different, and there is so much learning and growing that will follow you throughout your life. I have the freedom to be the caseworker I want to be and I know I am making a difference for children and families.”

Marisa believes that in order to be a successful caseworker, one should be honest, transparent, empathetic and be able to balance being a support for someone while also being firm about what needs to be done.

Joe Kellerby, Mesa County Child Welfare/Adult Protection Director, believes that Marisa encompasses all of those traits and more. “Marisa is the true definition of compassion and kindness for our families in need,” said Joe. “She is dedicated to her job and an asset for the Mesa County team.”

This post is part of the CO4Kids On The Case blog series that shares insights from Colorado child welfare caseworkers about the important work they do and why they chose a career in social work.
DYS community boards seeking members

Do you know someone who has experience or insights related to incarcerated youths? The Division of Youth Services (DYS) is looking for candidates for the DYS Community Boards in all four regions of the state. Candidates must be a resident, or work within the community region in which he or she serves. Board members serve without compensation and may not be employed by CDHS. Board appointments are made by Gov. Jared Polis and are for a three-year term. Learn more here

For details on how to apply, please reach out to Diane Skufca at or via phone at 720.237.5585.  Candidates are also welcome to apply directly online on the governor's website no later than Sept.1.
Make the most of your meetings 

Hello from the Division of Project Management! Every month we will be sharing tips, tricks, and resources with you to help make your everyday job duties a little easier. If you’d like to discuss any of the topics we cover in further detail, feel free to reach out!

Facilitating meetings of any size can be intimidating. Before any meeting, focus on the big picture: your meeting participants are simply humans trying to accomplish a goal. Your purpose as the facilitator is to help them do that. Now, with that mindset, take into consideration the following tips as you are facilitating:

Set the stage and expectations. Begin the meeting by reviewing the purpose and desired outcome.

Be engaged and energetic. Your engagement and energy will keep your participants attentive and focused as well as allow you to pose informed questions and keep the conversation moving.

Make space for everyone to contribute. The different perspectives people provide help the group to think creatively and innovatively and you’ll see a richness in the results.

Be direct and concise, but polite. Everyone’s time is valuable so acknowledge that and run the meeting as such.

Keep an eye on time. To nicely wrap up a meeting, politely interject when there are around 5 minutes remaining to summarize the meeting and decide upon next steps.

As with all new learning experiences in life, you’ll get better with practice. With time, you’ll learn how to read people, understand when it’s appropriate to interject, and better understand the nuances and complexities of human interaction. Start your practice off right by showing up authentically and staying focused on helping your participants achieve their goals!

For more detailed information, watch this LinkedIn Learning class on meeting facilitation in Cornerstone. If you have any meeting facilitation related questions, please reach out to Val Henderson at
Exploring racial segregation and other inequities

                                                                                  Photo credit: Mark Reis, special to the Colorado Sun

Since 1990, the United States has become more racially diverse but also more racially segregated. “The Roots of Structural Racism Project,” a decade-long study of the 113 largest U.S. cities, revealed that Colorado Springs was one of only two that qualified as “integrated.” Denver was ranked “highly segregated.” Poverty rates are higher in segregated communities of color, and Black and Latinx children raised in integrated communities go on to earn more. Read more here, learn more about how inequities affect Colorado communities, check out learning opportunities and hear some good news about Five Points with these resources from the Colorado Office of Health Equity.  
Social snapshot

As a parent or caregiver, you want the best for the children in your life. If you've got little ones, use the Colorado Shines website to search for child care in your community >>

If you aren't already, consider following CDHS on social media and sharing our posts with your own friends and followers. Visit the social media page on our website for links to all our accounts.
Get to know Teri Bokn

Tell us a bit about your role here at CDHS. 

I provide administrative support to the Child Protection and Prevention Services Unit staff, including the unit manager, by managing the day-to-day tasks such as processing personnel items, travel and preparing agendas and meeting materials, to name a few. In addition, I coordinate the complaint process for the Division of Child Welfare. 

What do you most enjoy about your job/field? 

I have worked as an executive/program/administrative assistant for all my state career. I most enjoy the variety my job provides because all the information/knowledge I acquire helps me to support the staff in my unit. Because of all the diverse duties I have, I am fortunate to interact with a variety of incredible staff throughout the division and department. I also feel very blessed every day that I am part of the Child Protection and Prevention Services Unit. I love my team. All 11 of us truly care about each other, not only professionally but as individuals, and it’s very genuine. 

What are you looking forward to? 

I’m the youngest of four girls, and my sisters and I are planning a road trip the beginning of October to visit our aunt and uncle in South Dakota. My sisters are my best friends, and we are very close. We always laugh a lot (mostly at each other) and I’m looking forward to spending time with them. 

What is your all-time favorite movie and why? 

"Spencer’s Mountain” (1963) is my all-time favorite movie. The movie and the TV series, “The Waltons,” are based on the novel “Spencer’s Mountain” by Earl Hamner Jr. It’s a favorite because the family is not about the money, but how the family comes first and how much they love and are there for each other.

Teri Bokn, program assistant to the Child Protection and Prevention Services Unit, and her grandkids. 
Time to Paws

A regal Siberian husky, Prince appreciates the value of a good nap. He is joined by his playmate, Duke, a perfectly travel-sized rescue dog, in this week’s photos.

Share your pet pics and give your coworkers a good reason to "paws" and say "awww."
Welcome, new CDHS employees!
Administrative Solutions

Steven Ahnen
Melissa Hamilton
Sean Morrow
Martina Olague
Amanda Polston
Andre Quintana
Lili Tran

Office of Behavioral Health

Jason Clegg
Anne Galvin-Soto
Madison Green
Anneliese Ornelis
Keana Pacheco
Mary Perez
Nessa Ponce
Adam Romero
Braisin Trogden
Janet Vazquez

Office of Early Childhood 

Katelyn Lammie
Dena Samuels
Office of Adult, Aging and Disability Services

Joselyn Contreras Aranda
Kate Fantozzi
Lilly Gonzalez
Tiffany Kinkade
Teresa Rice
James Trevizo
Chanise Walker-Payton
Quy Yep
Brian Yost

Office of Children, Youth and Families

Nicole Broderick
Ryan Campbell
Randy Espinoza
Harold Falcon
Luis Fidel Ordaz
Jasmine Harris
Harold Kelsaw
John Le Doux
Daniel Luckel
Krystal Martinez
Cody McWilliams
Yajaira Quezada-Gaytan
Aaron Quitazol-Lopes
Christopher Reynolds
Kristy Slibsager
Christopher Warren
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