Cuyahoga County



Why Profiles? 3 Good Reasons

By Kate Warren
Research Associate

In the past year and a half, I have managed the creation of 303 different community data profiles. You’ve probably seen them--they are one-page fact sheets that contain data about different geographies. We’ve released them for each county in Ohio, each state and federal legislative district in Ohio, each neighborhood in Cleveland, and most recently, each Cuyahoga County council district and each City of Cleveland ward. We are planning to do even more next year.

Last week on WCPN’s Friday Reporters’ Roundtable on Sound of Ideas,there was a discussion about our latest profiles. Chris Quinn, editor at Cleveland.com noted, “lines for the county districts are pretty much meaningless…. We know where the poverty is-- it’s not changing. I mean we’ve looked at it by city council wards, we’ve looked at it by municipal boundaries, and so just doing it within a different set of lines isn’t all that enlightening because we know where the poverty is, we just aren’t doing anything to fix it.”



Read More



County Council HHSA Committee hears testimony on topic of Child Support
and an update from Board of Developmental Disabilities

By William Tarter, Jr.
Policy Planning Associate and Community Advocacy
November 6, 2017

The Cuyahoga County Council Health and Human Services and Aging (HHSA) committee heard testimony on two very important issues at the November 1, 2017, meeting.

The Office of Child Support Services testified first, with Director Deborah Watkins requesting an approval of a $660,245 contract with Hyland Software.  The contract would allow the agency to continue working with Hyland Software to enter information into an electronic tracking system, called OnBase, to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness.  Director Watkins first provided a general overview of the office, explaining the specific need for funding to transition to an electronic tracking system.  Currently, the office handles 200,000 documents on an annual basis, approximately 770 documents daily, received via paper. She provided an example of the existing inefficiency. Currently, her staff conducts 8,000-10,000 investigations annually to examine if child support payments should be terminated, which is typically when the child turns 18 or graduates from high school. The agency employees have to manually place the files on a shelf; case workers then wait 30 days for any appeals that may come. If no appeals come in, the papers are pulled off the shelf and the investigation is closed. With an automated system, the agency would be able to electronically check the child support status, thus streamlining the process and improving management. Such easy tracking can improve the customer experience and increase positive outcomes for families, as well as generate a wide variety of reporting data and metrics. Matt Bender, web applications manager for Cuyahoga County, testified about how the electronic system data can be easily transferred to the overall Cuyahoga County Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, which is scheduled to be fully operational by 2019.








Read More



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.




Read More



New Data Next Week! What Community Solutions Will Look For

By Emily Campbell
Associate Director, Williamson Family Fellow for Applied Research
September 6, 2017

Each year, the U.S. Census Bureau releases an updated set of data about housing, income, employment, family structure, and health insurance coverage.  The 2016 Current Population Survey and 2016 American Community Survey one-year estimates are both scheduled for release the week of September 11. We, at The Center for Community Solutions, are anxiously awaiting these releases and are ready to quickly and accurately analyze the data. Below are some things we will examine.

1. Will the improving poverty trend continue? 
Last year, poverty in the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, and in communities across the state dropped, in some places by statistically significant amounts. In Cleveland, child poverty in particular dropped from an estimate of 58.5 percent in 2014, to 49.9 percent in 2015. If poverty holds steady or continues to decline, it’s a good indication that the prospects of low-income Ohioans have truly improved. But it is possible that the large declines shown last year were somewhat of a data anomaly. Our research staff each have a different appraisal of what will happen – will poverty continue to fall, go back up, or hold steady, and will any change be statistically significant?





Read More



Four Compelling Facts (and One Excellent Report)

Emily Campbell
Associate Director and Williamson Family Fellow for Applied Research
August 2, 2017

United Way of Greater Cleveland recently unveiled its community assessment. With the help of The Center for Community Solutions, United Way staff examined a host of data on education, income, health, and basic needs. The resulting report represents an excellent collection of indicators of community conditions in Greater Cleveland. United Way found new ways to put the raw numbers into perspective. Of all the information shared during the report release event, there are four facts which stand out.

  1. While unemployment has fallen in the past several years, the unemployment rate for Cleveland residents remains higher than that in the rest of the county. United Way pointed out that the number of Cleveland residents who are unemployed is greater than the entire population of the City of Solon.

  2. The gap between median income in Cleveland and median income in Cuyahoga County is more than $16,000. That is enough to afford mortgage payments on a $90,000 house.

  3. Based on data from AAA, an older adult living at the poverty line would have to spend more than 75 percent of their income in order to own and maintain a car. 

  4. People with mental illness are no more likely to commit a violent crime than those without mental illness. But, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, they are ten times more likely to be the victim of violent crime.      

The full report provides many more insights into the challenges facing our community. It also explains how United Way will respond, while showing opportunities to improve health, social, and economic conditions.

 

HHSA Committee Approves Revised Homeless Service Contract
By Adam White
Graduate Assistant
May 23, 2017

On Tuesday, May 16, 2017, the Health, Human Services, and Aging (HHSA) Committee of the Cuyahoga County Council approved three resolutions regarding various human service contracts, recommending them for passage by the full council. Continuing a debate from previous meetings, the decision to award a renewed contract to Frontline Services for the operation of the Norma Herr women’s shelter was the sole focus of public comment, as advocates made heard their grievances about living conditions at the city’s only shelter for single women.

In its May 3 meeting, the committee approved the Office of Homeless Services’ (OHS) contract with Frontline, despite the fact that Frontline’s bid for the contract did not meet OHS’ minimum score requirement established in the RFP process. Frontline scored the higher of the two bids received for the Norma Herr contract, and was less than a point away from the minimum requirement. The renewed contract, however, was shortened by the committee to one year, rather than the three-year contract initially recommended by OHS. The contract was on the full council meeting agenda for consideration of adoption on May 9, but was referred back to the HHSA Committee for further review by Council President Dan Brady.




Read More



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.





Read More



Budish Administration unveils County Youth Internship Program in HHSA Meeting
By William Tarter, Jr. 
Policy Planning Associate & Community Advocacy

April 21, 2017

At the April 5, 2017 meeting of the Cuyahoga County Council Health, Human Services and Aging Committee, members heard two pieces of legislation. One was the renewal of a contract with the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office, and the second was a rebranding of one of Cuyahoga County’s signature programs.

The first piece of legislation involved the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office, which has had a long-established contract with Cuyahoga County Child and Family Services. According to Bob Math, who represented Cuyahoga County Department of Health and Human Services, the county provides a $2.3 million contract to the prosecutor’s office in exchange for legal services. Staff attorneys accompany social workers to court on behalf of the social workers’ clients, when court action is needed for the safety and well-being of the child. The contract began on January 1, 2017, but it is just coming before the committee due to negotiations between the prosecutor’s office and the Department of Job and Family Services (JFS). The contract was passed out of the committee and recommended to the full council for consideration.





Read More



County Council HHSA Committee Hears Contract Extensions, State Budget Update, Medicaid and More

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

March 22, 2017

February 22, 2017

Tom Pristow, director of the Cuyahoga County Department of Health and Human Services, presented a budget allocation approval request that increased the amount distributed for the Cuyahoga County Tapestry System of Care from $5.7 million to $8.1 million. The Cuyahoga County Tapestry of Care is a partnership with government and non-government agencies to create a system for youth to receive wrap-around support services. The goals include reducing recidivism for youth back into county custody, as well as improved family and youth functioning. Councilwoman Shontel Brown asked Director Pristow the reason a change is needed, and Director Pristow replied that it is due to a reformulation of the referral process. Initially, the projected need for the agencies was lower than expected, so a decreased amount was requested by HHS. However, a recent evaluation of the service projections changed the forecast and, thus, a request for restoration of the original funding amounts for the six agencies. Applewood Center, Inc. received an additional $460,324, BeechBrook received an increase of $418,477, Catholic Charities Corporation (Parmadale) received an increase of nearly $1.2 million, and Pressley Ridge received an increase of $338,204. Bellefaire and OhioGuidestone did not see funding increases. Chairwoman Yvonne Conwell noted that many of the organizations in the Tapestry Program were given an “average” grade. She wondered why and how each organization is evaluated to merit each grade. Councilwoman Conwell shared that she would like to see uniformity in agency evaluation in the future. Councilwoman Brown asked Director Pristow for more data on which agency has received what amount from past years, so that it creates context for the amounts being requested, to which Director Pristow agreed. The contract modification was passed out of the HHSA Committee to the full council for consideration.




Read More


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



Read More



Food Insecurity, Autism Discussed at Final HHSA Meeting
By William Tarter, Jr.
Policy Planning Associate & Community Advocacy
December 14, 2016

In what was probably the final meeting for the year of the Cuyahoga County Council Health, Human Services and Aging (HHSA) Committee, the committee heard a presentation from David Merriman, administrator of the Cuyahoga County Job and Family Services, and Bob Math, Department of Health and Human Services contracting office. The five members of the HHSA Committee was also joined by District 11 County Councilwoman Sunny Simon.

The presentation was the renewal of a $1,095,450 annual contract administered by United Way for emergency food distribution to residents, with food purchased from the Cleveland Food Bank. For several years, Cuyahoga County has contracted with various organizations to provide money for individuals who find themselves in emergency need of food. For the past five years, United Way has been the lead partner to the county in helping to administer the funds for this service. The lead provider and distributor of the food is the Cleveland Food Bank. Along with money provided by the county, as well as other funding resources, the Cleveland Food Bank distributes approximately six million pounds of food per year, serving 140,000 households and 320,000 individuals. To maintain the quality of the contract, United Way surveys the hunger centers which receive the distributed food for quality, as well as timeliness of delivery. United Way’s administrative costs are about .5 percent of the contract costs.




Read More



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




Read More



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. 




Read More


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. 



Read More



HHSA Committee Approves Office of Homeless Services Request to Receive Federal Funding
By William Tarter, Jr.
Policy Planning Associate & Community Advocacy
August 24, 2016

The relationship between the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services was discussed at the August 17, 2016 Cuyahoga County Council Health, Human Service and Aging committee meeting. Ruth Gillett, manager of the Office of Homeless Services, testified and requested authorization of a consolidated federal grant from HUD of over $971,000 to help cover costs of sheltering hundreds of individuals who face chronic homelessness and severe mental illness and are in need of housing options. The county works with nonprofit and for-profit landlords to identify rooms that can serve as temporary housing for individuals who are in need of shelter.

Council members had a number of questions for the Director regarding homeless services. One question, posed by County Councilwoman Yvonne Conwell, centered on whether or not those who are given shelter under the program necessarily have to live in single occupancy apartments, or if they can be paired with someone else, in an effort to maximize the impact of the program. Ms. Gillett responded by saying that there are guidelines for assignment of rooms based on availability, including if the person/people requesting a room is part of a family. She added that there are a number of projects that are under construction from now through the middle of 2018 that will provide additional beds to address the wait list of individuals in need of housing. She talked about the current admission assignment procedure, which is tracked by a HUD audit, which ensures that those who have the most need for housing (including those that have a mental illness or physical disability) and those who face the largest obstacles to attaining employment, are prioritized to receive shelter. 




Read More



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. 



Read More

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

April 20, 2016


Read More



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. 













Read More

So Many Hospitals, But Where’s the Health?
Kate Warren, Policy & Planning Assistant
March 23, 2016

Those of us who are from Greater Cleveland know the pride with which Clevelanders talk about our local hospital system. People come from all over the world to be treated for chronic conditions at The Cleveland Clinic. MetroHealth’s Level 1 Trauma Center was Cuyahoga County’s only Level 1 Trauma Center, until this past December, when University Hospitals opened their own. UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital provides excellent healthcare for our region’s young people. All of these hospitals and doctors make Cuyahoga County a leader in the state for clinical care, but the data show that we’re not actually a very healthy county. So what’s the problem?

Read More

Living on $2 A Day
By John R. Corlett, President and Executive Director
October 29, 2015

About a year ago I did something that I hadn’t done before. I came back to work at an organization I had left at the end of 2007 — The Center for Community Solutions. I was fortunate enough to return as the President and Executive Director. During my previous time at CCS, I had worked on many policy/advocacy issues related to the local implementation of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, more popularly known as “welfare reform.” Some of the advocacy work we did was successful, but on some of the larger issues like time limits for cash assistance, we weren’t successful. 

Since being back at CCS, I have had a few Aha! moments. One of them was while I was at a meeting with Cuyahoga County officials and it was reported that there were approximately 1,500 adults remaining on the caseload of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program. I was stunned because, when I had left Community Solutions towards the end of the last decade, there were 10 times that many people on the caseload. Some of them have been forced from the rolls by Ohio’s three-year time limit, while likely an equal number got tossed from the program after being sanctioned for various infractions. States became more likely to sanction after changes in federal TANF rules had the effect of requiring larger numbers of recipients to be working 20-30 hours a week. 

Read More