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Cuyahoga County Council HHSA Meeting Passes Two Contracts related to DCFS

Will Tarter
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March 8, 2023
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The Cuyahoga County Health, Human Services, and Aging Committee met on March 8 to discuss two contracts. Both contracts pertained to the Division of Child and Family Services.

Both contracts pertained to the Division of Child and Family Services.

The first contract was a second one-year extension of a Master Contract with several health and human service providers to support at-risk children and families. The Master Contract currently runs from April 1, 2021, to December 31, 2022, and would be extended until December 31, 2023. The contract extension would amount to $4,912,734.60. The providers are:

  1. 1. 1. Catholic Charities Corporation, not-to-exceed $688,959.77.
    2. City of Lakewood, not-to-exceed $585,866.61.
    3. Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, not-to-exceed $247,925.20.
    4. The East End Neighborhood House, not-to-exceed $247,925.20.
    5. Harvard Community Services Center, not-to-exceed $296,202.54.
    6. Murtis Taylor Human Services System, not-to-exceed $792,052.92.
    7. The Centers for Families and Children, not-to-exceed $441,034.57.
    8. University Settlement, Incorporated, not-to-exceed $882,069.14.
    9. West Side Community House, not-to-exceed $730,698.65.Marcos Cortes, speaking on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services, explained that this contract was intended for providers to support families, foster care parents, and children, with the intent to aid them and provide support with the goal of keeping children out of the welfare system or lessen the time for children spent in custody.

The first question was posed by Councilman Marty Sweeney. He asked for clarification on why the City of Lakewood was listed as a beneficiary of the contract vs. the other organizations which were non-profits. Cortes explained that the city has its own health and human services department that provides the same services as some of the organizations listed as contract awardees. Sweeney followed by asking if other municipalities with social services departments are also eligible for an award. Cortes explained that the county issued an RFP and that Lakewood was the only municipality to respond.

How does the county assign each person/family to a provider?

Councilman Dale Miller asked if each of the nine entities had its own service area, such that the entire county would be covered. Cortes explained that while the entities are geographically distributed throughout the county, the reach of the entities would be county-wide. Miller followed by asking if each entity had its unique set of services or if the services were the same throughout each awardee. For that answer, Joe Jackson, Interim Deputy Director for the Cuyahoga County Division of Child and Family Services, said that each provider is able to meet the deliverables as required by the county, but they each have unique services in the manner in which they are provided. Miller concluded by asking if a person lives in an area that is served by multiple providers, how does the county assign each person/family to a provider? Jackson said that the providers do communicate and work together so that if a person(s) needed assistance and were able to be supported by multiple entities, the organizations would identify which one would be the best fit for that family. Jackson followed by saying that some referrals are sent by DCFS, but that sometimes referrals come from outside entities as well (hospitals, schools, churches, etc.).

There was a brief pause before the contract was passed. Chairwoman Conwell asked for a motion that the contract be passed under second reading suspension, but she said that the contract will possibly receive a substitute amendment to extend the time period for this contract. The reason is that the contract dates, ending at the end of the year, can be problematic for community partners to receive payments due to the way that the current internal county contract processing and auditing methods. Accompanied by a brief presentation from Walter Parfejewiec from the Office of Budget and Management, Conwell explained that extending the contract lengths past the end of the year, beginning in 2024, will better ensure that the county is able to maintain funding streams for service organizations and not wait so long for payment.

The contract was approved under second reading suspension, which means that it is not subject to three readings at the full council.

The second and last contract was for $1,551,000 to be awarded on behalf of the Division of Child and Family Services to MetroHealth.

The second and last contract was for $1,551,000 to be awarded on behalf of the Division of Child and Family Services to MetroHealth, for medical services for those children who are currently in the foster care system. The contract would run from January 1, 2023, to December 31, 2023.

Speaking on behalf of the county was Marcos Cortes who explained that youth in the care of DCFS need access to trauma-informed care when being removed from their home for placement. DCFS offers screening of children pre-placement, comprehensive physicals post-placement, and alcohol and drug screening for foster care parents and other adults in the home. The county issued an RFP and MetroHealth was the only one who responded.

Chairwoman Conwell asked if medical services included dental and hearing. Interim Director for DCFS Jackie Fletcher testified that the medical coverage is for “general medical care,” since MetroHealth since 2013. Fletcher said that the county had 5700 office visits. Vice President of Cuyahoga County Council Cheryl Stephens asked to clarify, stating that if a child breaks his/her glasses, where do they go?” That question was answered by Dr. Lauren Gopal, medical director for the foster care program at MetroHealth explained that hearing and vision screening is done when a child is placed and that well-child visits take place often. However, when a child needs glasses, or dental, they are referred to external sources. In this case, the hospital will work with the foster care parent to identify a provider for the services, such as teeth cleaning and vision.

What determines when health care is our responsibility vs not our responsibility?

Councilman Miller concluded the questions by asking “what determines when health care is our responsibility vs not our responsibility?” Fletcher stated that the county does the screening at the beginning to determine what the child’s medical needs are. This then informs ongoing care while the child is in county custody or foster care. The medical service concludes when the child is reunited with his or her family.

The contract was passed under second reading suspension. The meeting was then adjourned.

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