Meeting Unique Needs using Mill Levy Tax Dollars
Thanks to Denver taxpayers, the RMHS Mill Levy program can support Denver residents in meeting individualized needs in the best and worst of times.
The beauty of the Mill Levy program at Rocky Mountain Human Services (RMHS) is, at its core, its flexibility. With it, we can support the developmental needs of an 18-month-old who has hearing loss, as well as her family, which has seen their income take a serious hit due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This year, many people found themselves struggling financially or in need of funding for education and supports to succeed in everyday life. Many Denver residents found help in the Mill Levy program, which through the generous support of Denver taxpayers, is available to address the needs of Denverites who have an intellectual or developmental disability. The program’s flexibility increases service options and supports individual needs that may not be supported by other funding sources.
Allison is one and a half years old and is hard of hearing. She receives services from the from the Early Intervention (EI) program at RMHS to help in her development. The EI program works with children younger than 3 years old with a developmental delay or disability. EI is a parent-lead process that supports each child to meet developmental milestones.
A unique aspect of the EI program at RMHS is the additional support provided to families through the Mill Levy program. The Mill Levy program receives funding from a property tax in Denver and is used to increase access to services and increase options to address individual needs. This additional assistance helps people address challenges, support daily living needs and create experiences. This means individuals and families have access to a wide array of supports to enhance their services and promote success.
In the past year, Allison’s mom, Claire Simpson, received extra support that made a big difference in Allison’s development. Allison and Claire’s first and last names are changed in this story to protect the family’s privacy. RMHS greatly appreciates the family’s willingness to share their story and speak about the services they’re receiving.
“The classes and toys Allison had received this year to support her development made being home much easier and educational,” Claire said.
Mill Levy funded music classes from Music Together, Twinkle Together, LLC. The classes help Allison learn how to match her movements to rhythm, which Allison loves to follow. The classes have taught Allison how to recognize her head and other parts of her body by connecting music to the movements. The classes have been an important way of helping Allison grow developmentally.
Allison listens to the music in the car and when she goes to the classes, she can see others enjoy the same songs too.
“She gets very excited to see others dancing to the music with her,” Claire said.
Claire didn’t know the Mill Levy program could do more for her family until they needed help with housing and medical bills.
Claire is a math tutor, and this year saw her hours cut by 50 percent as her students and their families struggled with the new realities brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the reduction in hours, the family found themselves unable to afford their mortgage and utility bills. Claire reached out to Allison’s service coordinator, Nicolette Peters, and learned about the COVID-19 Housing Stability Fund through the RMHS Mill Levy program.
The fund was made possible by emergency funding received from Denver Human Services. It is intended to help people with intellectual or developmental disabilities or delays living in Denver maintain stable housing. The fund provided support for residents who needed assistance paying for their mortgage, rent and/or utilities.
Nicolette helped the family receive mortgage assistance for three months. The family also got some help in paying their utilities.
“Claire has been really grateful to have help giving her daughter all of these experiences that she may have not otherwise been able to have,” said Nicolette. Nicolette has worked with the family since they began receiving services this year.
Nicolette also helped Claire find support paying for Allison’s audiology appointment to get hearing tests and other supports.
The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic caused many emergency situations similar to that faced by the Simpson family, but for others the impacts were more subtle.
Donna Vroman, who has an I/DD, found herself feeling isolated due to the social distancing and other public health guidance. The change in routine and decrease in personal interaction created challenges. She made the change from a full-time position to one that was part-time for Medicaid eligibility purposes. In 25 years of working, all of it full-time, she found herself with more free time than she’d like in the difficult circumstances posed by the pandemic.
With support from the Mill Levy program Donna found a creative solution and a sense of comfort in a new recreational activity.
For a long time, Donna had dreamed of going horseback riding but never had the time. With the lack of income and increased free time, she decided to put in a funding assistance request through the Mill Levy program for horseback riding for herself and her provider Jan.
The support Donna received from the Mill levy program not only made a memorable experience possible it supported her social and emotional health during a difficult time.
Thanks to the generosity of Denver taxpayers, the RMHS Mill Levy program continues to have the ability to address a spectrum of needs to help create a stronger community.
To learn more about the program visit, www.rmhumanservices.org/ml.