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CDHS Connections Newsletter
Connecting People Who Help People
Aug. 11, 2021
CDHS Employee Council: Learn more, get involved

Do you work remotely? Have you ever received a certificate, ribbon or coin in recognition of your service to CDHS and the State of Colorado? The flex policy and Years of Service program are just a couple examples of how the CDHS Employee Council has worked with employees and leaders across the department to create positive changes. 

The Council has two new co-chairs: Kathy Clark from the Office of Children, Youth and Families and Roy McGlochlin from the Office of Adult, Aging and Disability Services. Learn more about them and the Employee Council, including how to share an idea or concern >>
On the Front Lines

On the Front Lines casts some well-deserved spotlight on staff at our 24/7 facilities and throughout CDHS who are going above and beyond to continue empowering Coloradans to thrive during ever-changing circumstances. We are grateful for their resilience and dedication, and proud of the work they do on the front lines of the pandemic, and every day for the Coloradans we serve. 

This week’s spotlight features Melissa Atencio, a medical records technician at the Veterans Community Living Center at Homelake. 

“Melissa has gone above and beyond her job duties in Health Information to help all departments during our current pandemic. She is always willing to step up and help with breakfasts or screening employees when needed. She is the ultimate team player when it comes to helping out our fellow employees or residents. Melissa ROCKS!” 

--Brittany Espinoza, Admissions and Marketing Coordinator, Homelake VCLC 

Melissa has been with CDHS for 13 years.

To recognize 24/7 staff and other CDHS employees who are making a difference, please complete this short Google Form. Thank you!
The Belonging Project: Exploring neurodiversity


'Thinking Differently About Neurodiversity'

One in 58 people have autism, and one in 10 have ADHD or dyslexia. Even though neurological differences are common, people with different thinking styles often don’t know how to relate to each other. In “Thinking Differently About Neurodiversity,” Kimberly Schreiber, a Stanford Business School graduate whose brother is autistic, talks about how simple changes can help people with a range of neurological abilities connect. Learn more in the video below.
In "Thinking Differently About Neurodiversity," Kimberly Schreiber explores how people with different neurological abilities can better connect.
Ways to get involved

An Introduction to Neurodiversity webinar, 1-2 p.m. Aug. 19. 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.
Injured on the job? Talk to a registered nurse through new 24/7 hotline

CorVel is the new workers’ compensation administrator for the State of Colorado, effective July 1. CorVel brings us a new feature for injured employees to obtain guidance from a registered nurse for direction on medical care for work-related injuries through the 24/7 Nurse Triage Line. Employees and supervisors may call a nurse 24 hours a day to discuss workers’ compensation medical care for a new injury.
To speak live with a registered nurse regarding medical care for a work-related injury, please call the 24/7 Nurse Triage Line at 855.542.4064.
Employees are still required to utilize the IOJ (injury on the job) desktop icon to report a claim. After filing the claim through the desktop icon, the employee should also call the Nurse Triage Line for direction and guidance on medical care.
Benefits of the new Corvel features: 
  • Employees speak live to a nurse on the 24/7 line.
  • Using the 24/7 nurse line, the claims will be reported the same day.
  • Corvel has seen a reduction in the length of a claim when the nurse line is utilized. 
If you have any questions regarding this new process, please reach out to us at
New resources for employee offboarding

CDHS is committed to supporting staff members throughout the employment cycle, including when they resign, retire or otherwise leave the department. The Onboarding Committee has created an Offboarding Toolbox to guide supervisors through the transition process. Effective offboarding is important because it helps facilitate a smooth workflow transition, the return of CDHS equipment and the enforcement of security protocols. Offboarding can also provide useful suggestions for improvement, as well as leave the door open for future collaboration and the rehire of a valued employee. 

The Offboarding Toolbox includes checklists, email templates, a guide for exit interviews and other helpful resources for supervisors. Check it out here! If you have questions or feedback, please contact Corbet Heyn or Tawni Albers.
Colorado state representative visits Mount View 

Last month, Colorado state representative for House District 22, Colin Larson, visited the Mount View Youth Services Center. As the ranking member of Colorado’s Education Committee, Larson visited Mount View in order to better understand the complexities of a youth’s education while detained within the Division of Youth Services. 

During his time at Mount View, Larson graciously conducted a verbal presentation with a Q&A session with the students. Topics included his legislative responsibilities, business ownership, college, career and technical education, and the legislative process within the Colorado legislature. The youth were very engaged and appreciated Larson's time, attention and transparency. 
Social snapshot

For its latest culinary creations, the Passport to the World cultural program at Platte Valley Youth Services Center took a virtual trip to Tennessee. Get the delicious details >>

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 Christine Willoughby

Tell us a bit about your role here at CDHS.

I manage the Research, Evaluation and Data team for SNAP. One of my primary responsibilities is to facilitate data sharing among other programs and State agencies to connect SNAP clients with additional services to help them achieve economic security. I also work with external stakeholders and research partners to support projects that evaluate how behaviors and practices impact outcomes for SNAP clients.
What do you most enjoy about your job? 

The people I have the pleasure of working with every day. I’m surrounded by energized and inspiring teammates that are committed to doing whatever it takes to deliver services to Coloradans. I feel really lucky to be a part of the Food and Energy Assistance Division team.
What is your dream vacation?

I’ve always wanted to travel to Patagonia. It looks beautiful and offers so much terrain to explore. Plus, who doesn’t love llamas? 😊
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Perfection shouldn’t be the goal. Don’t fear failure, embrace it and learn from it. 
Time to Paws

Puppy! That is all — but it’s enough, right? Rex is joined by an adorable black and white cat named Oreo 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

Kimone Ellis
Kayla Harshman
Kelly Sward
Alexander Woods

Office of Adult, Aging and Disability Services

Joselyn Contreras Aranda
Elizabeth Desalegn
Laura Kuemmerle
Jami Pelc
Tyler Stephens
Heather Thompson

Office of Behavioral Health

Sarah Edmonds
Sarah Mayes
Michelle McClaren
Office of Children, Youth and Families

Amanda F.  Barker
Nicholas Casias
Rochelle Drinnon
Alyssa Hamilton
Jasmine Harris
Geneka Jacobo
Jordon Kruce
Taryn Lesser
Deborah "Corie" Liles
Jasmine Mares-Sanchez
Jade Owens
Ryan Potter
Issac Rowles
Cassandra Schwartz
Melanie Stout
Taylor Tyson
Paul Williams

Office of Early Childhood 

Alicia Collyar
Amee Duncan
Office of Economic Security
Muhamed Ahmetasevic
Tamara Ordonez
Nichelle Ortiz
Sarah Strayhorn
Keisha Thompson
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