Poverty & Safety Net
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Letter to Ohio's General Assembly

April 17, 2020
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As we all begin to focus on the state's recovery, we want to ensure that health and human services are included in this discourse, as a strong safety net is the backbone of a healthy economy and a healthy workforce.

The Center for Community Solutions has a longstanding relationship with policymakers on both sides of the aisle to improve health, social and economic conditions for all Ohioans. We are happy to serve as an informational resource and have worked hard to act as a trusted public policy resource to advocate on behalf of the most vulnerable citizens in our community.

Since the novel coronavirus outbreak began, our staff has worked diligently to regularly produce content that identifies gaps in social services, provides updates about efforts around the state and elevates the state's work aiding individuals and families in need. We have also spent significant time communicating with our networks and coalitions to better assess needs and develop policy recommendations that will further support Ohioans as they navigate this difficult time.

We have developed a list of policy recommendations that can be found here.

To provide up-to-date information on the community impact during this time, Community Solutions is conducting a survey targeted toward nonprofits, philanthropic funders and government agencies who provide or support health and social service programs.

In less than a week, we've received more than 600 responses from groups -- large and small -- that serve people in each of Ohio’s 88 counties.

More than two-thirds of those who responded to the survey provide direct services to Ohioans, most in the social service or health fields. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nonprofit organizations employed more than 570,000 Ohioans and paid more than $27 billion in wages in 2017 (the last year for which data is readily available), accounting for more than 12 percent of total private employment. Not only are the services these organizations provide crucial for those they serve - they're also crucial to the very economy of the state.

These agencies and organizations provide services which are vital to the health and well-being of all Ohioans. Early results of our survey show that nearly all agencies have experienced disruption as a result of COVID-19 and the stay-at-home order, and for 55 percent of respondents the disruption has been significant. We expect to release preliminary results from that survey in the beginning of May.

Organizations are adapting rapidly, and more than two-thirds are delivering services by phone, video chat services or both. But some worry about the quality of services and the ability of all Ohioans in need to connect using technology. They are also more worried about the mental health and well-being of their clients than themselves. An urgent need is for sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE). Less than 6 percent of respondents so far say they have access to medical grade PPE for their staff and volunteers who interact directly with clients.

We thank you for your time and consideration of the health and human services safety net as you move forward with the difficult work of reopening Ohio.

Sincerely,

John Corlett President and Executive Director

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