The Cuyahoga County Health, Human Service and Aging (HHSA) committee considered two very important subjects during their most recent meetings. The first meeting, held February 16, discussed the issue of homelessness, where the committee considered two contracts that would seek to enhance the delivery of homeless services. The other meeting was held on March 2, to discuss two contracts related to child support.
HHSA committee approves Homeless Services Contracts, Administration eyes larger RFP in future
The HHSA committee met on February 16 to consider two amendments to contract that are currently administered by the Office of Homeless Services. The first contract was for FrontLine Services, which operates a youth and single adults’ homeless shelter at 1550 Superior Avenue, and the other with Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) who operates the Norma Herr women’s shelter. Each contract extension is for nine months, until the end of August 2022.
Currently, the Budish administration has several contracts with multiple providers to address specific demographics of the homeless/unhoused population.
For background, currently, the Budish administration has several contracts with multiple providers to address specific demographics of the homeless/unhoused population. Usually, homeless service contract awards are structured where one vendor will be the provider for a very specific population, including men or women, children or adults, etc. This creates a patchwork of contact service across the homeless services continuum or a single provider may have multiple contracts for differing segments of the population. According to Paul Porter, who oversees HHS contracts for Cuyahoga County, the administration has also found that the county often receives similar responses from the same providers for multiple contracts. To that end, the county has released a Master RFP with a request to receive responses that would serve the entirety of the homeless services continuum. What the county is hoping to do is to see if providers can reach out and see if they can coordinate their efforts and formulate a more comprehensive response to the RFP, hopefully leading to increased collaboration and increase in the quality of service to homeless individuals in the county. Additionally, this would ease the burden on the county officials from having to release multiple RFP’s with differing timeframes, that affect the homeless services continuum.
Homeless services provided at Frontline Service for North Point Temporary Housing
The first contract was an amendment for a contract with Frontline Service for North Point Temporary Housing, located at 1550 Superior Avenue. The contract would be extended from December 31, 2021 to August 31, 2022 and would add $948,622. The funding is going until August because the Office of Contracting and Procurement at the county is working with the Office of Homeless Services to create the aforementioned RFP and possible master contract for homeless services. That master RFP should be released later this year.
Committee Chair Yvonne Conwell asked if the current vendor contracts align with this new contract that the county is preparing. Porter said that some of the contracts go until the end of the year, but that the county encouraged vendors to mention that in their RFP responses and proposal. Conwell also asked if the county has a specific funding figure in mind for the contract. Porter said no, not necessarily because the county doesn’t want the contracts to be tailored to a specific figure. Porter went on to say that the county is also encouraging vendors to include if they have services that utilize federal dollars and/or philanthropic dollars, to include that information in their responses. They may get a higher score than vendors who intend to fund their program 100 percent through county dollars. The county intends to score the responses and made determinations on funding amounts in July.
The county retains the ability to award multiple contracts, even after receiving responses to the master contract RFP. It all depends on the responses received.
Councilman Dale Miller expressed concern by saying that he thinks the administration “may have overreached” with the master contract approach vs. the current multiple contract structure because while one contract eases the administrative burden, the council is able to provide oversight when issues arise with certain vendors at any given location. Porter sought to alleviate that concern by replying that while the county is undergoing a master contract RFP process, that it doesn’t necessarily equate to awarding a master contract agreement. The county retains the ability to award multiple contracts, even after receiving responses to the master contract RFP. It all depends on the responses received. The contract was approved under second reading suspension, which means it now moves to the full council for consideration.
Homeless services provided at the Norma Herr Women’s Shelter
The second contract was also regarding homeless services to extend a contract with Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) for services provided at the Norma Herr Women’s Shelter. The contract for the shelter, located at 2227 Payne Avenue, would be extended from December 31, 2021 to August 31, 2022, with an additional $1,834,529. The contract, similar to the North Point contract, will only be extended until the end of August to see what the responses look like under the master RFP.
The committee also heard from Teresa Sanders, the Executive Director of YWCA Norma Herr Women’s Shelter said that she is excited to see what may be yielded from the master RFP process. FrontLine Services also said that they are grateful to have time to respond to the master contract. Michelle Sirak, who serves as the Director of Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services, said that she expects that Homeless Services may also be the beneficiary of dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act. Councilman Marty Sweeney invited Sanders to come back in front of the committee to provide the later figures on the clients served. She said that in 2021, the Norma Herr shelter served 871 unduplicated women, with the largest number of women from between the ages of 25-34. There has been a 5% increase in individuals sleeping in shelters in 2021 compared to 2020. She said that the facility has had difficulty with retaining staff because they themselves have been sick with COVID and/or competing with other organizations who offer higher wages.
Miller asked a question about what is the largest operational issue with the shelter. Sanders said that crisis de-escalation is the biggest issue within the shelter. She said while they have a de-escalation and crisis intervention team at the shelter, she would like to see that team expanded from its current number of four people.
The contract was approved under second reading suspension. The meeting was then adjourned.
Child Support Services Contracts Total Nearly $20 Million
The Cuyahoga County Council Health, Human Services and Aging committee met on March 2, 2022 to discuss two contracts, both related to child support services. The first contract was a $11.3 million contract that last from January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022. The Center for Community Solutions has previously written on this contract. The contract calls for $3.7 million to the Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations court, $3.65 million to the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court and approximately $4 million to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.
- Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas/Division of Domestic Relations $3,701,643
- Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas/Division of Juvenile Court $3,656,315
- Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office $3,876,037
- Cuyahoga County Treasurer’s Office $77,980
- Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas/Division of Juvenile Court/Cashiers Department $23,147
The $11.3 million contract is comprised of one-third county dollars, which amounts to a little over $4 million. The remaining dollars come from federal funding through Title IVE of the Social Security Act, according to the Health and Human Services contracting and procurement department Director, Porter. The county is required under the Ohio Revised Code to establish and enforce the system and collection of child support, and it is strictly regulated by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The contract was approved under second reading suspension.
The $11.3 million contract is comprised of one-third county dollars, which amounts to a little over $4 million.
The second contract that was discussed was an $8.3 million contract for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office that will run from January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2023. The prosecutor represents Cuyahoga County Job and Family Services and provided legal services for custody and dependency cases, as required by the Ohio Revised Code. This contract is a two-year contract, so the contract amount is about $4 million a year for the next two years. Council did not ask many questions as they mainly sought to understand how youth who are in county custody, when they commit an offense that could bring criminal charges, the county has an attorney on retainer to be an advocate for the child, prior to any formal charges given to the child. At that point, the child has the right to be represented by the county public defender.
The contract was approved under second reading suspension. The meeting was then adjourned.