Montezuma County Social Services office gets new director

Monday, Aug. 20, 2018 10:29 AM
Gina Montoya is the new director for Montezuma County Department of Social Services.
Supervisors and managers for Montezuma County Social Services pose with their new director. From left are adult protection supervisor Crystal Hollingshead, child protection manager Chris Veach, child welfare supervisor Kelli Jackson, Social Services Director Gina Montoya, finance manager Lori Higgins, assistant director LueAnn Everett, and eligibility supervisor Amy Branson.

The Montezuma County Department of Social Services has a new director.

Gina Montoya came on board in July and has an extensive background in human services in the state.

For 10 years, she was a child protection case worker for Boulder County, and was the sexual abuse treatment team supervisor in Adams County for five years.

For 18 years, Montoya worked on child welfare systems with Colorado Department of Human Services and as a business analyst for the Governor’s Office of Information Technology.

In an interview with The Journal, Montoya discussed her management style and plans.

“I manage with collaboration, transparency, communication and consistency,” she said. “I have a very strong passion for serving our clients, and feel that with my experience and education, I am well prepared for this position.”

She has been busy meeting her staff of 40 employees and getting to know local family service and youth organizations.

“We want to sustain our partnerships with the resources we have in the community,” Montoya said. “Partnerships are very important in strengthening families.”

She plans to update the social services website and add contact lists for local family support resources in the area. Child support enforcement also is a priority.

Adult protection programs are getting more attention statewide and locally, Montoya said. They are needed to protect adults and elderly from physical abuse and neglect, and from financial mismanagement and fraud.

“There needs to be more awareness of the services available to protect adults,” Montoya said.

Improving the county’s state performance scores is also a goal. The C-Stat reviews track program effectiveness, including the application process, timeliness and level of support for those in need.

A new category implemented by the state focuses on identifying cases of child abuse where the abuse reoccurs within 12 months, indicating additional action and services are needed.

“We will be looking at gaps in service and where we need improvement,” Montoya said.

She credits her staff for picking up the slack during a recent turnover period.

“They are very strong and very committed. You can see that they like their jobs, and I am very pleased to see that,” Montoya said.

Montoya fills a vacancy left by Joshia Forkner, who resigned this spring.

Forkner took over as director in October 2014, overseeing a department of 30 employees managing an array of state and federal social programs. County administrator Melissa Brunner gave no reason for his resignation, and Montezuma County commissioners would not comment about his resignation, on the advice of county attorney John Baxter.

Forkner declined to comment.