Poverty & Safety Net
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Cuyahoga County HHSA Committee Awards Workforce Development Contracts

June 14, 2019
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The Cuyahoga County Council Health, Human Services and Aging (HHSA) Committee heard a workforce development Request for Proposal (RFP) award for contracts with two agencies: the first to Maximus, a national workforce development entity with a local presence in Cleveland, for an award of $2,606,193.96, the other to The Centers for Families and Children for an award of $4,440,833.54. Each of the contracts is for one-year, with three additional one-year options. Maximus can provide all workforce development services the county is seeking within the organization, whereas The Centers for Family and Children has a number of subcontractors that they work with to provide services. The HHSA committee also heard two presentation from community organizations: The Cleveland Rape Crisis Center and the Greater Cleveland Foodbank. Due to the depth of the content presented during the meeting, and its unusual length, this blog post has been divided into two parts. Read the first part here.

 David Merriman presented a contract approval for a new workforce program for county citizens seeking cash assistance from the state through Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF).

The HHSA committee first heard testimony from David Merriman, Associate Director of Cuyahoga County Job and Family Services. He presented a contract approval for a new workforce program for county citizens seeking cash assistance from the state through Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF). The new county program is called “Propel Cuyahoga.”  

Propel Cuyahoga reflects a new approach to fulfilling the state-mandated requirement that beneficiaries engage in an aspect of workforce development to maintain TANF eligibility. In the past, the county would sign a contract with an individual agency to focus on one part of workforce development: including things like job search, job training and job placement. County officials became concerned when citizens who needed assistance with a different area of professional development, would be referred to a different agency. According to Merriman, it is possible that a potential job applicant would be working with five or six agencies in their workforce development application process.

 In an effort to streamline the process, the county issued an RFP which would allow awardees to manage a master contract.

In an effort to streamline the process, the county issued an RFP which would allow awardees to manage a master contract. The contract awardees could offer one of two options: either encompass all workforce services the county needs in one organization and one location, or subcontract services out with other providers, and offer a location where all services can be provided in a single seamless process, without having to go through multiple eligibility verifications. The county would still maintain its compliance with the federal government to ensure that program participants are eligible for workforce development programs.  

Eight agencies replies to the RFP. A team of 38 individuals, comprised of county agency direct-service staff, their supervisors, the United Way of Greater Cleveland, foundation representatives and other experts reviewed the applications. In the end, the county awarded the two contracts to Maximus and The Centers for Families and Children.

 A team of 38 individuals, comprised of county agency direct-service staff, their supervisors, the United Way of Greater Cleveland, foundation representatives and other experts reviewed the applications.

Council had a few questions for Merriman. Chairwoman Yvonne Conwell asked who the providers are that will subcontract with The Centers for Families and Children. According to Merriman, the subcontractors are Verge, Tri-C and Towards Employment and Catholic Charities. It is important to note that the Propel Cuyahoga program is for individuals age 25 and older. The State of Ohio has a separate workforce development program for young people aged 14 to 24.

 The State of Ohio has a separate workforce development program for young people aged 14 to 24.

Councilwoman Shontel Brown wanted to know about the funding for this program. Merriman replied that the Propel Cuyahoga program is funded by TANF funding, along with some Health and Human Services (HHS) levy dollars and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funds.  

Councilman Dale Miller wanted to know why the contracts were approved for different amounts. Merriman replied that the different amounts were what applicants submitted in their RFP proposals. Miller went on to say that he believes this is a “big step forward” that will help beneficiaries “tremendously.”  

Councilwoman Cheryl Stephens wanted to know, besides the 36 month maximum amount of time that people can receive TANF benefits, what is the typical amount of time that people usually receive cash assistance. Merriman said he didn’t have the information readily available, but that he would get an answer to her question. He also said that may be difficult to determine because people can get their eligibility extended beyond 36 months if they can prove a hardship.  

The contract was moved to the full council for second reading.

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