The Cuyahoga County Health, Human Services and Aging (HHSA) Committee met for the first time since July on October 31. The meeting was chaired by Councilwoman Yvonne Conwell, and featured a contract extension for adult guardianship and a PowerPoint presentation from the Cuyahoga County Department of Developmental Disabilities. In an unusual move, the HHSA committee adjourned its regular meeting, and then convened a special meeting which was held in conjunction with the Education, Environment and Sustainability Committee, chaired by Councilwoman Sunny Simon.
In an unusual move, the HHSA committee adjourned its regular meeting, and then convened a special meeting which was held in conjunction with the Education, Environment and Sustainability Committee, chaired by Councilwoman Sunny Simon.
In the first meeting, Paul Porter, who oversees contracts and procurement for the Department of Senior and Adult Services and Health and Human Services, testified about a year-long contract extension for Lutheran Metropolitan Ministries (LMM). The $553,000 contract is for the adult guardianship program. The first, one-year contract was awarded in 2017. It was then extended for one year until the end of 2018. The county expects to issue another request for proposals next year. Update on @CuyahogaCouncil Health, Human Services & Aging Committee's discussion of education and Adult Guardianship Click To Tweet
Marlene Robinson-Statler, Interim Administrator for the Department of Senior and Adult Services (DSAS) testified about the contract. The Probate Court and DSAS both contribute money to fund the program which is administered by LMM. LMM has served the Greater Cleveland community for 28 years and they have partnered with DSAS since 2009.
When a person is referred to the Adult Protective Services division at DSAS, and the department determines that a guardian is needed, DSAS tries to find a family member to become his or her guardian. However, sometimes that individual may not have access to family or friends, so they are then referred to the adult guardianship program that is administered by LMM. Individuals can also be referred directly to the adult guardianship program from the Cuyahoga County Probate Court. In the guardianship program, the assigned person is able to make decisions on behalf of the person who is in need of support.
As of 2018, there were a total of 729 participants in the adult guardianship program.
Council had a few questions for the DSAS and LMM leadership team. County Councilwoman Nan Baker asked how legal guardians are screened. Kendra Daniel, Director of Adult Support & Advocacy for LMM, testified that the agency conducts extensive background checks and also offers 6 hours of training. Additionally, the guardians are overseen by a full-time guardian director.
Council learned that money is contributed by the county probate court and DSAS, and is then combined with private funding dollars that serve as supplemental sources of funding for the adult guardianship program. Councilman Michael Houser asked if the council can be sent a breakdown of exactly how many clients are served by the public dollars contributed to the program. Councilman Dale Miller noted that the Probate Court has slightly decreased its funding from a few years ago. Wendy Feinn, from the county’s Office of Budget and Management, confirmed the decrease. When asked about the reasons for it over the past years, presenters said that they could only speculate on the specific reason for the decrease, but one of the reasons offered was a decrease in court filing fees, which are allocated to the program.
The contract was passed out of committee under second reading suspension, which means that the request does not have to have the usual three readings in the HHSA committee and is now forwarded directly to the full county council for consideration.
The HHSA committee then heard an update from the Department of Developmental Disabilities. As was noted at an HHSA committee meeting a year ago, the department is finalizing the privatization of service providers, to comply with a mandate from the State of Ohio. They are also planning to sell the Forest Hills Center in East Cleveland.
After the presentation, the HHSA meeting was adjourned and the joint meeting of the Education, Environment and Sustainability and the HHSA committee began.
The joint meeting featured a presentation from Matt Carroll, Chief Economic Opportunity and Growth Office for Cuyahoga County and Gene Chasin, Chief Operating Officer for Say Yes to Education, a national nonprofit organization that works with cities and school systems to improve educational outcomes. The organization provides $15 million in seed funding, to create an infrastructure to benefit the municipal school district of selected cities. The initiative uses evidence-based indicators to measure student’s current academic performance. Additionally, ‘Say Yes’ partners with local governments and non-profit partners to include wrap-around services for students and their families, including legal and medical services, in order to improve the quality of life and educational outcomes for those students. In addition to the support services, if Cleveland is selected as a ‘Say Yes’ city, there would be a local scholarship fund established to provide guaranteed scholarship funding to Cleveland Municipal School District (CMSD) students.
Say Yes to Education provides $15 million in seed funding, to create an infrastructure to benefit the municipal school district of selected cities.
Cities and municipal school districts that have previously gone through the ‘Say Yes’ process and achieved success include Buffalo, NY and Syracuse, NY. The City of Cleveland and the CMSD are among dozens of applicants to be the next city chosen in the highly-competitive process. Cleveland’s application, which includes support from Cuyahoga County, the Cleveland Foundation, College Now and the United Way of Greater Cleveland, underwent an extensive evaluation from national experts and is now a finalist for the designation. The organization is working with the aforementioned community partners to identify long-term supports and revenue to ensure that, if Cleveland is chosen, the infrastructure in place stays for the long term. The joint committees also heard from CMSD CEO Eric Gordon, who offered praise for the effort. County council applauded all those involved and vowed to continue on the path towards making Cleveland the next Say Yes to Education city.