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.

The next segment of the meeting was a presentation by the administration by Cuyahoga County Job and Family Services Administrator David Merriman.  Committee members heard from Mr. Merriman and leaders from Enterprise Community Partners (a local nonprofit devoted toward improving community welfare), Case Western Reserve University, and FrontLine (a leading contracting organization in the county that provides a number of county services). Together, they are working on an ongoing pilot program being conducted in Cuyahoga County. In the past, money was allocated to organizations, outcomes were measured, and trends were identified.  County officials had questioned whether such an arrangement truly maximized opportunities for innovation. In this pilot program, the government pays organizations for performance and success-based outcomes, as a way to incentivize success. Additionally, the pilot program would continue to aim to coordinate support services for families who have children, as way of trying to unite the family as soon as safely possible. The full copy of the presentation can be found here: https://ccs.memberclicks.net/assets/docs/CCS_General/county%20hhsa%20slides%20-%20final%20final.pptx


March 8, 2017

The March 8 meeting of the HHSA Committee featured testimony from Bob Math, manager for the Cuyahoga County Health and Human Services, and Cynthia Weiskittel, director of Children and Family Services, about a year-long extension to more than a dozen contracts for Neighborhood Family Service Centers (NFC) throughout Cuyahoga County. The goal of NFC is to be a resource for families who are in dire need of support, whether housing, food, or emotional. Together, these organizations strive to provide crisis intervention and other services in order to improve outcomes. Ten entities, some public, most nonprofit organizations, were recipients of the year-long extension. Three of the leaders of those organizations, one from the City of Lakewood, one from the Harvard Community Center, and one from the Euclid-Hillcrest Collaborative, testified. Each spoke about what NFC has meant to the community and the impact on families that they are able to have on a daily basis. 

County officials testified that in addition to requesting the year-long contract extension, they also are noting a needed increase in supportive services on the west side of the county. The county is going to be reviewing how best to meet those needs in the months ahead.

Unlike other contracts that have recently come before the committee, the contract does not begin until April, so the contract request will receive three readings in the committee before it heads to the full council. 

The HHSA Committee also heard testimony from Paul Porter and Eric Martin, from Cuyahoga County Division of Senior and Adult Services (DSAS) and Health and Human Services, respectively, as they requested a contract extension with Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry until the end of 2017, for $553,000 for Adult Guardianship Services (AGS).  AGS is a joint partnership with DSAS and Probate Court, which provides support for guardians in Cuyahoga County. Guardians are for individuals that have been identified by DSAS and/or the Probate Court as incapable of making their own decisions. 

The request was approved by the committee and then forwarded to the full council until second reading suspension.

Lastly, the committee heard from John Corlett, Tara Britton, Loren Anthes, and Will Tarter, of The Center for Community Solutions (CCS), about the state budget, Medicaid changes, and upcoming demographic trends. 

A full copy of the CCS presentation can be found here.