Family and Youth-Oriented Program Recognized for Commitment to Diversity

A Cooperative Extension program that helps low-income, at-risk families and youth in Colorado was recognized Thursday, Nov. 15 with an award honoring diversity. The Diversity Award is given each year by Colorado State Cooperative Extension to one of its programs that shows an exceptional commitment to reaching diverse audiences.

The Colorado Children, Youth and Families at Risk program, or CO-CYFAR, addresses the needs of low-income communities by connecting human development resources, identifying family needs and developing community-based, cost-effective solutions.

The program developed two family centers in the state: the Morgan Family Center in Morgan County and the La Llave Family Center in the San Luis Valley. The sites provide parenting and adult education, day-care provider training, and family literacy, child development, after-school, summer enrichment and public education programs.

"I am pleased to recognize CO-CYFAR for its contributions to our services to diverse audiences," said Milan Rewerts, director of Colorado State Cooperative Extension. "This program is an excellent example of how Cooperative Extension supports families and children and strengthens communities across the state by providing information and education that makes a difference in their quality of life."

The program in the San Luis Valley area includes an Even Start Family Literacy Program in the Alamosa, San Luis and Monte Vista communities. Even Start includes the adult education, parenting education, early childhood education and parent- and child-time components. With CO-CYFAR and Colorado Children’s Trust Fund funding, intensive high-risk teen parents and educational programs for day-care providers also are available. The program also offers bilingual home visitors who work in communities and schools.

Additional partner agencies providing services through the San Luis Valley CO-CYFAR program include Trinidad State Junior College; Monte Vista, Alamosa and San Luis public schools; Alamosa and Monte Vista Head Start programs; and Boys and Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley.

The San Luis Valley area program serves a wide range of diverse audiences including immigrant families from Mexico and Guatemala, migrant workers, Hispanic families who have lived in the area for generations and Anglo families and teens of all ethnic backgrounds. About 20 percent of the participants are white and 80 percent are Hispanic.

In the Morgan County area, after-school and summer enrichment activities are available in several locations through CO-CYFAR. The programs are offered in various locations to reach the highest number of under-served children in the area.

A computer lab at the Morgan Family Center offers adult education classes for basic skills such as English as a second language courses and GED preparation, in addition to a tutoring and homework assistance program. The tutoring and homework assistance program is offered during the school year to kindergarten through sixth grade students.

Last year, the Morgan County Family Center reached 194 youth and children and about 30 families of various ethnicities. About 75 percent of the children served through the program live in poverty.

Cooperative Extension faculty who carry out the CO-CYFAR programs in the San Luis Valley and Morgan County areas are Cheryl Asmus, project coordinator and director of the Family and Youth Institute in the department of Applied Human Sciences at Colorado State (campus); Luann Boyer, Cooperative Extension agent in Morgan County; Jan Carroll, project director and Cooperative Extension youth development specialist (campus); Dale Edwards, Cooperative Extension director in the southwestern Colorado region (Alamosa); Mary Ellen Fleming, Cooperative Extension agent in Alamosa County; Mary Gross, Morgan County Family Center director; Robin Leist, Even Start and La Llave project coordinator in the San Luis Valley; Don Nitche, Cooperative Extension director of the northeastern Colorado region; Josie Rodriguez, Morgan County Family Center assistant; and Doug Steele, Cooperative Extension and youth development director (campus).

The diversity award, given by Colorado State University Cooperative Extension each year, recognizes programs that embody the organization’s mission to support and educate a diverse audience within the state.