Director of Human Services finds opportunity in partnerships for the community

March 29, 2011

It wasn’t altogether the mountains. It may not have been the outdoors at all. It is the people here that attracted Mary Baydarian to accept the position of Director of Human Services of Garfield County. And it is what the people are doing here that most interested Baydarian.

“What brought me here is the community involvement I found,” said Baydarian. “Public agencies and non-profits work very well together here, and they have a passion for helping our more vulnerable population. The organizations and the partnerships here accomplish things together that wouldn’t have been achievable separately.”

That is where Baydarian sees her work contributing to the community effort. “I am deeply committed to bringing services to underserved areas through enhancing community-based service delivery.”

One example of the community building a powerful agency in partnership with many organizations was the creation of the Childhelp Colorado River Bridge Center, an organization which works to provide hope and healing to neglected and abused children through advocacy, treatment, and investigation services. The creation of the organization was a project that Baydarian’s predecessor, Lynn Renick, worked on in collaboration with other organizations in the community.

Baydarian came to Garfield County and began her post in January 2011 after serving as Director of Human Services in Park County, Colorado, a smaller county of approximately 18,000 residents. Baydarian is a licensed clinical social worker with a Bachelor of Social Science degree from Michigan State University. She worked for the juvenile court system in Lansing.

Then, she moved to Colorado and studied for her master’s degree from the University of Denver. She was employed in Jefferson County Child Protection Services, and in Adams County as an intensive family treatment therapist. She also worked in private practice for 10 years, specializing in family violence cases before starting her work as Department of Human Services Director in Park County. While in Park County she also worked for Pikes Peak Mental Health in a variety of capacities, including supervising clinicians and as an after-hours crisis clinician.

With the current economic crisis, the department Baydarian now heads is facing a two-sided challenge that of providing services to a growing population of needy residents in a very challenging budget climate. In the past two years, benefit issuance has more than doubled, and ongoing caseloads have increased from about the 400 mark to between 700-800 now.

“It is now that strong relationships with community partners are needed more than ever,” Baydarian says. “We have a variety of assistance programs for people struggling in this economic crisis, such as food assistance, Family Medicaid, Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), senior program services and more available through the Garfield County Department of Human Services. Programs are allocated by a combination of federal, state and county funding. “Garfield County contributes generously to local human service programs. There is an increasing need in the community and I am here to build on a well-established foundation. I see an energy here that is very encouraging!”

Contact the Garfield County Department of Human Services at 970-945-9191 or 970-625-5282.

Human Services