Cuyahoga County Health and Human Services and Aging Committee approves one-year contract extensions

The November 20 meeting of the Cuyahoga County Health, Human Services and Aging (HHSA) Committee was comprehensive due to a number of health and human services contracts that expired at the end of the year and needed to approval for an extension. Part one of this blog focuses on contracts that are not related to the Office of Homeless Services. Part two will focus exclusively on the contracts for the Office of Homeless Services. For part two, please click hereWhich Cuyahoga County agencies received the homeless contracts approved by the county's Health, Human Services and Aging Committee? Click To Tweet

The meeting opened with testimony from a member of the public, who reported that the state of the Norma Herr Women’s Center’s homeless shelter building is dire, even with the change in management from Frontline Services to YWCA.

David Merriman, deputy administrator for Cuyahoga County Job and Family Services, testified about the extension of a contract worth nearly $1.3 million with Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) for the Cuyahoga County Internship Program. The internship program is the latest iteration of a program that initially covered summer jobs for kids aged 14-18 years old. As has been covered in previous HHSA meetings, the program funds can now be used for individuals up to age 24 and extends past the summer, into the fall and winter months. The current contract expires at the end of the year. The county has asked for an extension, in order to draw down additional funding from the federal level, which acts as a match to county dollars. The county expects to issue another Request for Proposal (RFP) for the next administrator for the summer internship program, in the coming year. Merriman reported that more than 500 young adults, ages 18-24, were able to secure employment after their internship experiences concluded. Which health and human service contracts where approved by Cuyahoga County Health, Human Services and Aging Committee? Find out here Click To Tweet

Council did not have many questions. Chairwoman Yvonne Conwell was curious about the marketing of the RFP as a means of collecting more proposals. Councilman Dale Miller asked about the utilization of other federal dollars such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Funding and Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funding, in addition to county funds used for the program. Councilwoman Nan Baker inquired as if this is the type of family support that was originally intended for TANF and WIOA funding, to which Merriman said yes. Councilwoman Shontel Brown asked if there was any consideration of the geographic placement of young adult workers in underserved communities such as Glenville. Merriman said that the county had not specifically focused on that aspect of the program, but that can be explored in the future. The contract extension was approved under second reading suspension, meaning that instead of the traditional three readings, it will now head straight to the full council for consideration.

Catholic Charities offers screening services for those who need cash assistance through the Ohio Works First program.

The second contract, which was considered was a one-year contract extension to Catholic Charities Corporation, is worth $522,274. Catholic Charities offers screening services for those who need cash assistance through the Ohio Works First program. The screening looks for drug abuse, domestic violence, housing or other issues that would need to be addressed before a person is ready for work. The screening is designed to reduce instances where a person would fail when they are looking to re-enter the workforce. The only question came from Miller who clarified that the county currently operates with two segmented contracts, one for screening (such as this contract) and one for job training and workforce development. Eventually, these will be combined into one contract. The contract extension was approved under second reading suspension.

The next item was also a contract extension for the Options for Independent Living (OPTIONS) program, which is administered through the Department of Senior and Adult Services (DSAS). The OPTIONS program is administered through a master contract with multiple agencies. The contract would extend the current contract so it doesn’t end in 2018 but rather goes through 2019. Bob Math, on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services, and Marlene Robinson-Statler, interim administrator for DSAS, testified on behalf of the contract extension. There were 21 service providers listed in the contract. The contract extension is worth $2,860,766.

The goal of the OPTIONS program is to get seniors to remain in their homes.

The goal of the OPTIONS program is to get seniors to remain in their homes. The OPTIONS program offered home based services such as grab bar installation, home delivered meals, homemaker services, personal care and transportation services. The OPTIONS program served 1,086 customers in 2017. Conwell asked if the programs that serve county citizens through the OPTIONS are meeting their quality goals. Robinson-Statler said they are. Brown asked if the committee could be provided a breakdown of how many seniors receive services in each of the seven categories. Baker asked about eligibility requirements, to better understand how to ensure that people across Cuyahoga County have access to the OPTIONS program. She wanted to ensure that residents of her district (District 1) have the same opportunity for service from organizations involved in the OPTIONS program. Robinson-Statler said that, as a result of feedback received in 2016, the 2017 RFP stipulated that service providers must be able to serve clients on the west side as well. Miller asked if she felt that DSAS was meeting the needs of seniors with current funding levels. Statler said that DSAS does not currently market their services, and if they did, they would be run out of personnel and there would be waitlists. Statler said they do the best they can with the funding they have, for the consumers they can reach. The contract was extended under second reading suspension.

65 percent of families who live in the City of Cleveland, live in a single family household.

The next contracts considered were for the Cuyahoga County Fatherhood Initiative. The contracts were extended one year to December 31, 2019. Al Grimes, administrator for the Fatherhood Initiative, testified that the purpose of the Initiative is to promote active involvement for fathers in their children’s lives. Conwell wanted to verify that all of the money allocated to the program was spent and Grimes testified that it was. Baker expressed surprise to learn that 65 percent of families who live in the City of Cleveland, live in a single family household. Of those, Grimes said, 65 percent are headed by women, and 35 percent of single parent households are headed by men. The contracts were also approved under second reading suspension.