Health Care & Insurance  August 18, 2022

Mental health advocate with focus on children retires

GREELEY — Janis Pottorff, longtime mental health advocate and program director at North Range Behavioral Health in Greeley, has retired.

She directed Family Connects, which provides early childhood and family services. She began her work in 1978 and, according to a press statement from North Range, “effectively transformed the way children’s mental health in Weld County is understood, funded, and supported.”  

“Early on, Janis built her work around evidence from early childhood development research that suggests responsive relationships with caregivers are the single most protective factor that help babies develop into healthy, resilient adults. Under Janis’ direction, Family Connects grew into a network of services for children 0 to 6 that encourage families to build strong, stable environments where children can feel  safe and supported. These services focus not on ‘fixing’ the child, but on supporting the adults who care for them,” the press statement said.

During her time with the agency, she wrote hundreds of grants to help create programs for children, and she worked with local, state and national partners to identify gaps in care.

“It is a blessing to watch her work. Those who have worked alongside Janis describe her impact with  words like mentor, friend, ally, and partner,” Becky Wyperd, North Range Behavioral Health  administrative director, said in a written statement.

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, she trained and consulted with staff, community peers, and  caregivers in the network of care across the community around maternal mental health, two generational trauma, special education, and prevention work. “She helped Weld County understand that early childhood development and mental health go hand in hand, thus changing the landscape of Weld County’s early childhood supports,” the press statement said.

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