Longhurst-Pritt named DHS director

Longtime Garfield County social worker named new director of human services

January 9, 2020

GARFIELD COUNTY, CO – Garfield County has a new face at the helm of its award-winning Department of Human Services (DHS), though its someone who is already well known in the community. Sharon Longhurst-Pritt was recently named the county’s new DHS director, following the retirement of former director Mary Baydarian.

Longhurst-Pritt was selected as the strongest candidate following an extensive national search for a new director. She now oversees all divisions of the Garfield County Human Services Department, including child support, child welfare, eligibility, child care quality and licensing, senior programs, single entry point (SEP), finance and administrative support.

Longhurst-Pritt has worked at Garfield County DHS since 2006, and was most recently deputy director of human services. She earned her Master of Social Work at Cleveland State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of South Florida.

Longhurst-Pritt worked as a therapist at Mind Springs Health prior to coming to work for Garfield County. Her love of people made social work an obvious career choice.

“It really comes down to enjoying working with people and being part of something bigger than yourself,” she said. “You work with a vulnerable part of our population and help them get to a better place.”

Longhurst-Pritt is excited about overseeing a department with an already stellar reputation and taking on new challenges on the horizon. Both the state and federal governments have new programs coming online, and DHS needs to get the community ready for any changes.

“The Family First Prevention Services Act is coming down from the feds, and it’s going to be part of our Child Welfare Division, so there will be a lot of work to get that up and running,” she said. “There’s really a lot going on with all of our divisions.”

The Family First act aims to “ensure that children in foster care are placed in the least restrictive, most family-like and appropriate settings,” among other purposes, according to the
bill. At the state level, the governor’s office has a greater focus on early childhood services, and Colorado recently received a $34 million federal grant toward those programs. This boon will lead to more opportunities for early childhood services for years to come.

“There’s a lot of things going on in all our divisions,” Longhurst-Pritt said. “It’s a moving field that never gets stagnant, and I just love being a part of it. You take things from the federal level and see how they can be implemented at the county level.”

She added that her initial goal is to springboard off the fantastic work the department is known for, and to integrate some of the work between divisions for smoother connections.

“What really excites me is further developing our programs and bringing additional services into the county,” she said. “We’ll look at whatever is going on legislatively, and determine how it affects our rural area, and advocate for our families that need assistance. We want to make sure that our small county voice isn’t lost in the process.”