Cuyahoga County



Budish Administration Unveils Five-Year HHS Strategic Plan
By William Tarter, Jr.
Policy Planning Associate and Community Advocacy
September 25, 2017

The first Health, Human Service and Aging (HHSA) Committee meeting in several months took place on September 13, 2017, with a presentation from Tom Pristow, director of the Department of Cuyahoga County Health and Human Services, unveiling the Cuyahoga County Health and Human Service Strategic Plan. The plan is a result of legislation pushed by Cuyahoga County Councilman Dale Miller, which proposed a five-year HHS strategic plan, similar to the five-year economic development plan already enshrined in the county charter.

In partnership with The Center for Community Solutions, the county hosted a series of focus groups that requested input from county residents, as well as briefed them on the current service and direction of the department. The final report, available here, includes several goals, including the “No wrong door” policy, where citizens will be able to go into any county building and be able to access services that they need.




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New ADAMHS Board CEO Testifies to HHSA Committee
By William Tarter, Jr.
Policy Planning Associate and Community Advocacy
September 25, 2017

The September 20, 2017 meeting of the Cuyahoga Council Health, Human Services and Aging Committee, was attended by all members of the committee and Council President Dan Brady.

The meeting featured a presentation by Valeria Harper, the incoming chief executive officer of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board. She was joined by Chief Financial Officer Frank Brickner; Scott Osiecki, Chief of External Affairs; and Chief Quality Officer John Garrity, Ph.D. Ms. Harper opened with remarking that she is in her 52nd day as CEO, though she previously served as Chief Operating Officer and has been involved in the work of the ADAMHS board for many years.




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Homeless Service Contract Dominates HHSA Meeting Discussion
By William Tarter, Jr. 
Policy Planning Associate & Community Advocacy

May 9, 2017

The Health, Human Services and Aging (HHSA) Committee of Cuyahoga County Council heard a presentation about the importance of access to lower-priced food for low-income citizens, and contract renewals from Child and Family Services and the Office of Homeless Services, in a packed meeting on May 3, 2017.

The committee first heard from David Davis, president and founder of the Food Stretcher Plus program, who requested a statement of support from the county as he sets up an automatic coupon program for low-income citizens. Mr. Davis noted how 90 percent of coupons are distributed in newspapers, which do not always reach low-income citizens. The Food Stretcher Plus program works with retailers such as Dave’s Supermarkets and manufacturers, to identify certain products that would be eligible for discounts. Low- to middle-income residents are enrolled in the Food Stretcher Plus program, which automatically identifies products at the Point of Sale (POS) that would be discounted for the shopper. Councilwoman Shontel Brown asked if buyers would be able to combine the automatic coupons program with “paper” coupons, to which Mr. Davis said that manufacturers would probably be careful to avoid products being discounted through the Food Stretcher Plus program and the coupons found in newspapers. Councilman Scott Tuma questioned if the program discounts could be abused. Mr. Davis said that there is an electronic monitoring system that would catch any instances of abuse. Councilman Dale Miller inquired if the program was up and running, and if this was a new program or replication of a program elsewhere in the county. Mr. Davis said that this idea is new, has not launched, and is based in the Cleveland area. No decision was made, but members appreciated the presentation.





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Re-entry, Homelessness, and Children Healthcare Tops HHSA Committee’s Agenda 
By William Tarter, Jr.

Policy Planning Associate & Community Advocacy
February 14, 2017
 

January 18, 2017



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Cuyahoga County HHSA Committee Features Content-rich October and November Meetings         
By William Tarter, Jr.
Policy Planning Associate & Community Advocacy
December 1, 2016

The Cuyahoga County Health, Human Services and Aging Committee has been very busy the past few weeks, hearing on a variety of issues related to reducing youth homelessness, as well as presentations from the Cuyahoga County Office of Developmental Disabilities and the Cuyahoga County Department of Health. 

October 19, 2016




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HHSA Committee Approves Contract Extension with FrontLine for Transitional Housing Program
By William Tarter, Jr.

Policy Planning Associate & Community Advocacy
October 18, 2016

The October 5, 2016, Cuyahoga County Health, Human Services and Aging meeting was one of the shortest committee meetings in recent memory, as there was only one item on the agenda.  However, that one item was important.  Over the past two years, the county executive has taken a very aggressive stance on workforce development and ensuring that county citizens are able to overcome any hurdles that they may have to finding and keeping employment.  To that end, the Office of Homeless Services has been very busy seeking to integrate support systems for homeless individuals into the workforce plan.  Shari Weir, program officer for Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services, delivered testimony about the extension of a program contract with Frontline Services for transitional housing at North Point, located at 1550 Superior Avenue. The building was purchased by the City of Cleveland and, by agreement, has been operated by Cuyahoga County. The county has issued two four-year RFPs for organizations to run North Point, and both times, Frontline was selected.  The building has beds for 160 men, and it is almost always at capacity.   According to a recent study, the average length of stay is five-and-a-half months (168 days). 

As the second contract ended September 30, 2016, the Budish Administration asked for a one-year extension until September 30, 2017.  The county will pay $1,222,993 for the additional year.  Another RFP will be prepared and released in early to mid-2017.  Councilman Miller asked about national trends related to transitional housing, to which Ms. Weir answered that the United States Office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is moving away from transitional housing, but that this location remains important because one of the primary goals of the shelter is to eliminate barriers to housing and then sustain enough income to transition into a more sustainable housing situation.  This aligns with the county workforce strategy under the Budish Administration.  Worth noting, as of August 1, single women who are employed or seeking employment are also able to stop by North Point to be served by the program. 

The resolution was unanimously approved out of committee and will head to the full council for consideration.



Programs that Help Underserved Populations Highlight September 21, 2016, HHSA Meeting
By William Tarter, Jr.
Policy Planning Associate & Community Advocacy
October 7, 2016

At the September 21, 2016, meeting of the Cuyahoga County Health, Human Services and Aging Committee, Council members heard testimony from David Merriman, administrator of Cuyahoga County Job and Family Services (JFS), and Walter Parfejewiec, chief fiscal officer, Department of Health and Human Services, to present a two-year, $8 million contract award to Americab Transportation for 2017 and 2018. This service allows for non-emergency medical transportation, including appointments to radiology, chemotherapy, and treatment for patients who are addicted to painkillers. The contract is 100 percent funded with federal dollars through Medicaid. Americab is the current medical transportation provider for the county and has been previously awarded the 2-year contract twice. Currently, Americab serves 600 county clients a month, providing 20,000 rides a month. There were two respondents to the RFP that JFS issued, but one was disqualified. The Americab RFP bid said that the cost per ride would average $15.22. There was a lengthy discussion about a “bid bond” and the ability for the county to guarantee that the service being provided is worthy of the contract, especially given that there is no second provider if Americab does not deliver on the quality of service. Sarah Cammock, assistant law director for the county, said that she would provide more information to Councilmembers about the difference between a “bid bond” and a “performance bond,” which is used to award money on a contract based on satisfaction by the county of the performance of a vendor.

The second item that was discussed was the extension of a contract with Catholic Charities to June, 2017. When a citizen comes to the county requesting cash assistance through the Ohio Works First program, that person is referred to Catholic Charities, which then provides them with pre-employment screening and helps clients to overcome barriers to employment. The pre-employment screening was done by the county initially, and separately by Catholic Charities. The decision was made to have the service be exclusively provided by Catholic Charities, through amending a contract that was signed in 2015, which allows for the county to concentrate its efforts on other services for customers. The contract extension is for $977,321, which will bring the total contract amount between the county and Catholic Charities to approximately $1.8M. HHSA Committee Chairman, Councilman Pernel Jones Jr. asked Merriman about the administration’s vision for workforce development.  Merriman responded that the administration is approaching it with a three-step plan path. No matter where an individual may find themselves on the career spectrum, the plan is to: 1) help individuals who are on assistance and get them to a career path; 2) get citizens access to resources, training, and overcoming any barriers to employment, including working with career coaches; and 3) place individuals in jobs that pay better wages. 




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County Council Discusses Y.O.U. Healthier Buckeye Council Award and Southgate NFSC at HHSA Meeting

By William Tarter, Jr.
Policy Planning Associate & Community Advocacy
September 20, 2016

The Cuyahoga County Health, Human Service and Aging (HHSA) Committee heard testimony during its September 7, 2016, meeting from Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Y.O.U.), who in collaboration with the County, received an award of $748,520 from the State of Ohio through the Cuyahoga County Healthier Buckeye Council. The Healthier Buckeye awards are an incentive through the State of Ohio for counties, in collaboration with community organizations, to innovate new initiatives that would reduce the reliance of individuals on public assistance and get citizens on a path towards self-sufficiency. For more information on Healthier Buckeye Councils, read this earlier blog post from CCS. Y.O.U. officials testified that the award will be used to work with 100 young adults, aged 18-24, who previously participated in the county-sponsored summer youth employment program (which was funded by the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program). Y.O.U. will identify and enroll 100 of the 914 individuals served under the summer youth employment program. The qualifications for enrollment are that the individual is not currently working and has no plans to go to college, but wants to continue to receive job training. According to Y.O.U. President Carol Rivchun, these “Opportunity Youth,” as they are referred to, will have the opportunity to participate in three different skill pathways, two related to health care and one related to information technology. It is the hope of Y.O.U. officials that the skills learned during the experience will give enrollees a critical skill set for a career, as well as keep them out of poverty. The Healthier Buckeye funding ends on June 30, 2017.  

Cuyahoga County’s plan to close the 57,000 square foot Southgate Neighborhood Family Service Center (NFSC) by December 31, 2016, was also discussed during the meeting. The Southgate NFSC currently houses 60 JFS employees and 24 microfilm employees who work in the Cuyahoga County Microfilming Processing Center (CCMC). The CCMC is responsible for scanning and storing county documents. The county will move the JFS employees to the Jane Edna Hunter Center (3955 Euclid Avenue) in Cleveland. The CCMC employees will be transferred to the county building at 1642 Lakeside. Although an exact move date has not been identified, the county will be notifying the public by posting signs/notices in the coming weeks, according to David Merriman, administrator of the Cuyahoga County Division of Job and Family Services. 



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HHS Strategic Plan Ordinance Passes out of Cuyahoga County Council HHSA Committee
William Tarter, Jr.
Policy Planning Associate & Community Advocacy
August 5, 2016

A major development in the field of Cuyahoga County health and human services took place at the August 3, 2016, meeting of the Cuyahoga County Council Health, Human Services and Aging Committee. 


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Fathers Matter: An Update on Cuyahoga County’s Fatherhood Initiative
William Tarter, Jr.
Policy Planning Associate & Community Advocacy
June 17, 2016

Fathers play an important role in our culture and our society. There are good programs across the country that are aimed at supporting fathers in helping them to be strong role models and examples in their family. However, there are not many public sector entities in which there is an entire division where the sole purpose is to support Fathers. Cuyahoga County is one of the few in the country to offer that support.  The Fatherhood Initiative helps fathers meet financial and emotional needs of both their children and themselves through programming and events, including the Annual Fatherhood Conference, as well as highlight the good relationships that don’t get publicized in the media. At the June 8, 2016, meeting of the Health, Human Services & Aging Committee of the Cuyahoga County Council, Al Grimes, director of Cuyahoga County Fatherhood Initiative, provided an update and overview of his department, as well as a preview of his programming for the coming year. 

In his testimony, Director Grimes told to the Committee that Fatherhood Initiative was not seeking an increase, but rather to convey all of the things that his division has done throughout the past year and the hope that he can continue those efforts into 2017. His department gets the message out to county residents by advertising on radio and television stations across the county. One of the programs that has been highly successful is Daddy Boot Camp, a one-day, free seminar that educates dads on the dangers of shaking a baby, as well as proper diaper change techniques and other important health information. The Boot Camps are hosted at sites across the county, including MetroHealth, the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Center in East Cleveland, Southwest General on the west side, and Hillcrest Hospital on the east side. 



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Cuyahoga County Council Health, Human Services & Aging Committee Meetings
William Tarter, Jr.
Policy Planning Associate & Community Advocacy
June 6, 2016

April 20, 2016


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Cuyahoga County Health and Human Services Update
William Tarter, Jr.
Policy Planning Associate & Community Advocacy
April 26, 2016

On March 31, 2016, Daphne Kelker, Contracts Administrator of Cuyahoga County Job and Family Services testified in front of Cuyahoga County Council Health, Human Services & Aging Committee. The testimony surrounded the approval of several contracts.  One was a master contract for agencies to support the Cuyahoga County Tapestry System of Care program. The mission of the Tapestry program is “to enhance the lives of children with significant behavioral needs, who are involved in multiple systems, through family-focused, child-centered, strength-based, and culturally competent care in the community.” It was built on a 2003 grant from the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The Tapestry Contract was originally with 8 agencies; four mental health agencies and four community organizations also known as Collaboratives. [1]

     1. Catholic Charities Community Services Corporation dba St. Martin de Porres Family Center-$1,244,830.20
     2. East End Neighborhood House-$1,315,749.08
     3. University Settlement, Inc.-$178,943.45
     4. West Side Community House-$1,575,632.62
     5. Applewood Centers, Inc.-$1,461,787.77
     6. Beech Brook-$2,366,762.92
     7. Catholic Charities Services Corporation-$2,656,388.75
     8. The Cleveland Christian Home-$1,556,720.40

This year Cuyahoga County proposed to reduce the number of contracts to six mental health agencies. This was done in order to maximize Medicaid reimbursement. The community organizations who previously had separate contracts with the county, to provide the community advocacy component, will now only be engaged if contracted as a subcontractor by one of the mental health agencies. 













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