County chosen for human-services funding program

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Selection will provide flexibility in allocating resources, officials said

County Commissioners Kathi Cozzone (from left), Terence Farell, and Ryan Costello applaud the county’s selection for a state block-grant program.

Chester County was one of 20 counties selected by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare to participate in the Human Services Block Grant program, county officials said today.

The Chester County Board of Commissioners was notified Thursday by a letter from Secretary Gary D. Alexander of the Department of Public Welfare, a press release said.

“This designation means we are able to better utilize the money we receive for vital human services,” said Chester County Commissioners’ Chairman Terence Farrell. “Only 20 of the 30 counties applying for the program were selected, and we are grateful for being one of the chosen counties.”

The new program is designed to give counties more flexibility in allocating dwindling resources. According to Chester County’s Human Services Director Ruth Kranz-Carl, the designation will also allow the county to keep a maximum of three percent of unspent funds at year-end for the next year. The money can be used to support start-up programs without sufficient initial funding.

“The need for social services is growing in Chester County and funding is not keeping pace,” said County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone. “The block grant program will allow us to shift available funds to help cover some of the costs of underfunded programs.”

Commissioner Ryan Costello agreed, pointing out that the county “has an excellent record of managing taxpayer money and being able to maximize services within our budget,” a factor that the state considered in making its selection.

Counties were chosen based on geography, size, poverty-level, recent population shifts, their administrative structure and their demonstrated ability to manage the block grant, the release said.

“This is a landmark achievement that for the first time combines health care and social service funding into one performance-driven block grant with local flexibility,” said Alexander, the public welfare secretary. “We had an overwhelmingly positive response from counties. While I wish we could have included all of Pennsylvania’s counties in this program, I am committed to working with the counties and the General Assembly to expand this program to all 67 counties in the next legislative session.”

The Human Services Block Grant consists of seven funding sources, Mental Health Community Programs, Intellectual Disabilities Community Base, County Child Welfare Special Grants, Homeless Assistance Program, Act 152, Behavioral Health Services Initiative and Human Services Development Fund.

 

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