Garfield County program helps fathers, kids reconnect
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Eric Blomquist’s children don’t live with him. He has had his troubles with the law. He admits to mistakes like drug and alcohol abuse.
But Blomquist is seeking to overcome those challenges and is working to achieve the biggest goal of his life right now: to make himself a better father so at least one of his six children can live with him.
“I want to get back into my children’s lives,” said Blomquist, 29.
Garfield County’s Family Connections/Fatherhood Initiative is trying to make Blomquist’s goal a reality.
Steve Aurand, project manager for the Garfield County Department of Human Services, said the county recently received a one-year, $50,000 grant for the county’s fatherhood program, which offers broad assistance like teaching employment and job search skills, parent coaching and mental health services.
But the fatherhood program can also offer assistance that may be specially tailored to unique situations.
“We were able to [help one father and] work with the mother and the judicial system to get a restraining order modified so he could see his kids,” Aurand said.
Some of the people Garfield County’s fatherhood program is helping include men who have been in prison for years and haven’t had any relationship with their children, along with a single dad who just needs “help, support and direction.”
Rachael Windh, a case manager with Garfield County Department of Human Services, was hired in December to support the program and has met many of the fathers who are seeking the program’s help.
“I am so impressed that they are so enthusiastic about this program,” Windh said. “It is pretty exciting.”
The county’s Family Connections/Fatherhood Initiative started in November, and it has already served about 20 men, Aurand said.
“Hopefully we will get funding for the next three years,” Aurand said. “We are hoping, over the long term, to incorporate some of the components of [the Family Connections/Fatherhood Initiative program] into the Department of Human Services programming, so it will exist in some form or fashion as time goes on.”
Blomquist said the Family Connections/Fatherhood Initiative program has helped him navigate some of the problems he is facing as a father.
“If I have a problem or something I don’t understand, I can just call Steve and he works with me,” said Blomquist, who has been with the program since it started. “Steve has been working with me to help me understand that I can’t just rush into everything, like being able to see my kids.”
Because of the program, the county’s human services department was able to help Blomquist receive treatment for his problems, Aurand said.
“And that has what really got him back on track to do some of the things he needed to do, and hopefully he will be responsible and be more involved with his kids,” Aurand said. “He has done an excellent job for the last three or four months.”
Blomquist sees the county’s fatherhood program as an important tool in his life.
“It offered me [the chance] to seek the treatment I needed without having to be arrested or go through the judicial system,” Blomquist said.
Aurand said two specific goals he has for the program is to make fathers “more involved with their kids than they were before” and to create “healthier relationships with their kids.”
That is exactly what Blomquist wants for himself and his children. And it could help him reach his final goal: to have at least one of his children live with him.
“He is a great kid,” Blomquist said. “His [parent has] made some poor choices. Steve has been able to give me the opportunity to make the right choices through this program.”
Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117
Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
For statewide information, including Garfield County’s program, go to coloradodads.com. Or to get in touch with local program call 625-5282, ext. 191 or ext. 264.
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Recreation and travel in Glenwood Canyon will be much more hazardous due to the potential rockfall and debris flows originating from destabilized ground, rock and weakened trees burned by the Grizzly Creek Fire last summer.