Cuyahoga County Council President Dan Brady joined members of the Health, Human Services and Aging (HHSA) committee at their June 19 meeting. The meeting featured a presentation from Scott Osiecki, CEO of the Alcohol Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board of Cuyahoga County and an update on the Propel Cuyahoga workforce contracts that were discussed at the May 22 HHSA meeting.
The ADAMHS board’s annual budget was $73 million in FY2017, a number that decreased to $64 million in FY2019.
Osiecki opened his presentation to the committee by thanking county executive Armond Budish for his commitment to not cut the ADAMHS board funding level (currently $39 million annually) in the upcoming county budget. Although the county funding level will remain the same, Osiecki explained, other parts of the ADAMHS board’s budget, such as grant funding and funding from the state, have sharply fallen in the past few years. For this reason, Osiecki said the board is trying to do more with less and which is why the ADAMHS board is appealing to council for a budget increase. The promised maintenance of the ADAMHS board funding is one piece of news we learned at this meeting, and it also informs the public that the county budget development process is well underway. The @CuyahogaCouncil HHSA Committee reviewed the county's new workforce development contract. Find out what they learned here Click To Tweet
Osiecki provided the committee with a general overview of the ADAMHS board, including the board’s composition, as well as a rundown of the various collaborative organizations and coalitions of which the ADAMHS board is affiliated. The organization is not a service provider, but a funder and supporter for providers who deal with mental health, drug addiction, suicide and other health issues. The organization seeks to serve those individuals who would otherwise not be covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, as well as provide recovery support services that would not be covered by insurance such as housing stabilization, transportation and detoxification. The ADAMHS board also has working relationships with the Cleveland Division of Police and the Cuyahoga County Drug, Mental Health and Recovery Court to develop protocols for individuals who have mental illness.
The organization seeks to serve those individuals who would otherwise not be covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, as well as provide recovery support services that would not be covered by insurance such as housing stabilization, transportation and detoxification.
The ADAMHS board’s annual budget was $73 million in FY2017, a number that decreased to $64 million in FY2019. County levy dollars now represent 61 percent of the total board’s annual budget. Additionally, the ADAMHS board expects to completely exhaust its funding this year, and has no budget reserves.
Osiecki then described the various cuts and reductions in programming and services that have taken place as a result of funding changes, while the county is dealing with an opioid crisis and a climbing suicide rate. Last year, 203 individuals died by suicide in Cuyahoga County, the highest number of deaths by suicide since 1985.
Osiecki concluded his remarks by requesting a $7.8 million annual increase in the ADAMHS board budget. The money would go towards crisis services, addiction treatment and housing.
County levy dollars now represent 61 percent of the total board’s annual budget.
Councilmembers periodically asked questions throughout the hearing, but one of the most consequential statements was from Brady, who remarked the only way that the ADAMHS board can receive what it is looking for, is if the Health and Human Services (HHS) levy is increased.
The next part of the meeting featured an update on the workforce development contract “Propel Cuyahoga.”**
Committee Chairwoman Yvonne Conwell asked that the administration come back before the committee to answer additional questions about the contracts before they are voted on by the full council. Administrator of Job and Family Services, Kevin Gowan, appeared before the committee. Conwell asked the administration to explain why the workforce contracts cost nearly twice as much money to serve essentially the same number of clients. Gowan explained that one part of this contract is that the providers (Maximus and the Centers for Family and Children) have agreed to have staff at the Virgil Brown county facility in downtown Cleveland, thereby ensuring that individuals receive centralized support in one location. There is a cost associated with adding that capability. Additionally, as he would note later, the county is trying to support county citizens in the job search process “from beginning to end,” and get them into good-paying jobs. This new approach, he argued, will hopefully lead to better outcomes, but will require additional investment by the county.
The county is trying to support county citizens in the job search process “from beginning to end,” and get them into good-paying jobs.
Representatives from both Maximus and The Centers for Families and Children (The Centers) were on hand to answer questions. From Maximus, project manager Monty Starks, testified that Maximus expects to have 20 staff members available to fulfill the contract. This represents an increase of seven staff members, from a previous workforce development contract that Maximus had with the county (though the earlier contract was not as comprehensive as this proposed contract). From The Centers, Barb Andelman, Vice President of Workforce Programs, testified that they will be expanding the staff to 47 full-time employees. Jill Dawson, Director of Finance for The Centers, clarified that the 47 staffers are a combination of 27 staff members of The Centers staff plus staff from partnering agencies who will serve as subcontractors.
Conwell stayed with her line of questioning about why, if this is the first time the county is attempting such a new approach to workforce development, why is the county tying up three years’ worth of funding? Councilman Dale Miller then asked about the length of the contract. Gowan replied that the contract is a one-year contract, but with two one-year extensions. Conwell noted that the funds would be set aside, for three years. There seemed to be some confusion over this as David Merriman, assistant director for the Cuyahoga County Department of Health and Human Services, briefly approached the podium to clarify that funds are set aside only one year at a time. Conwell said that she would like to find out the exact amount of money that is set aside, and for how long. Conwell said that she would like for the administration to come back to the committee in eight months to update the committee on the progress and outcomes of the Propel Cuyahoga contract. Gowan said that he would be happy to do that.
The goal is a 60 percent labor participation rate for those who enroll in the program.
County councilwoman Shontel Brown asked what the workforce participation goals are for the agencies. Gowan answered that the goal is a 60 percent labor participation rate for those who enroll in the program. Which would mean, for example, if 600 people enroll in the program annually, the goal is to get 360 people successfully launched into the workforce.
The meeting was then adjourned.