Assistant moves comfortably into top Social Services slot |

Assistant moves comfortably into top Social Services slot

John Martin is a fan of Lynn Renick and her approach to helping clients who seek help from the Garfield County Department of Social Services.

“She likes to get them on their feet, then let them fly,” said Martin, a Garfield County commissioner. “She really has a feel for folks, and she has a wealth of knowledge. She really knows her business, and is deeply committed to her role in the community.”

Renick was Garfield County’s assistant social services director when the commissioners chose her on Sept. 3 to replace Margaret Long, who announced her retirement in August.

When asked about advice that Long might have imparted in her last days as director, Renick thought for a moment then said, “Margaret said she loved the job, and to relax and have fun.”

Renick, 48, was born and raised in the Kansas City area, and holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Kansas.

After several years as a case worker in St. Louis and Kansas City, Renick was an associate director for a large nonprofit community center. Later, she was research associate at the Family Study Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, then assistant director at a large nonprofit treatment center for at-risk children in Kansas City. She moved to Rifle in 1994.

Garfield County had been looking for a child welfare case worker in 1994, and Renick was looking to get back to working with children and families, so she decided it was a good time to relocate.

“I had vacationed here quite a bit, loved the area, and I had family in the area,” Renick said during an interview in her fourth-floor office in the Garfield County Courthouse Plaza.

In the Garfield County Social Services Department, she worked as a social caseworker, manager of the child welfare division, child and adult protection manager, and assistant director of services.

In her new role as social services director, Renick manages a staff of 70 county employees at offices in Glenwood Springs and Rifle. Social Services takes up the third and fourth floor in the new Courthouse Plaza. Renick’s office sits in the corner on the fourth floor, with “gorgeous” views of the streets below and hills north of Glenwood Springs.

The Social Services office is charged with a wide range of state-mandated duties, including the administration of the Temporary Aid to Needy Families program, food stamps, Medicaid, foster care, adult protection and investigations.

Part of Renick’s job as Social Services director is to keep up on regulatory changes from numerous state and federal offices. She points to a pile of agency letters next to her computer and says, “It’s constant. We get information every day.”

Aside from learning the intricacies of running a busy office, Renick is also faced with possible budget cuts on the state level.

“Some have hit, and others are anticipated … We’re going to have to maximize our resources over the next year or two,” Renick said. “We have a critical need for child care, and more foster homes. We’re going to maximize the dollars we have available.”

Looking farther down the road 10 or 20 years, Renick said protection of senior citizens will become more of a concern as the population ages. “We’ll have to look at services for the elderly, from both the public and nonprofit areas,” she said.

Since being first named as acting social services director in early August, Renick hasn’t had much time for off-duty activities, but she likes to hike, play golf and read.

She says she’s not a serious golfer, but enjoys playing the Rifle Creek Golf Course. Her favorite hiking area includes Independence Pass, “and I walk around Rifle a lot.”

Her favorite reads are mystery novels.

Renick has two cats, Attila and Simon. She confirmed that Attila is named after the ferocious Hun, but added that she’s known as Tilly. When it was suggested the cats might like seeing their names in print, Renick laughed, tossed back her head and said, “I don’t think so.”

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