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

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.

Councilmembers Conwell and Brown expressed concerns about residents being able to access the new facility, given cuts that recently took place by RTA, as well as losing access to free parking. The administration said that they expect more individuals will use the phone system, which they are working to improve, in order to access their benefits.

Councilman Miller said that he sees this situation in the context of the development of the county’s HHS strategic plan. He said that he understands that the county wants to operate at the highest level of cost effectiveness, but that it needs to find the “balance” in limiting costs, while ensuring that all residents have access to the services that they need.

The administration requested authorization for payments on the Southgate lease through the end of 2016, to make plans for the move. That request was granted by the committee and was forwarded to the full council.