Erie County officials are trying to wrap their heads around why they’re receiving less financial aid for an important initiative strengthening local families.
In the past three years, state and federal financial support has declined for Wraparound, a program aiding area families and children with complex needs.
To make up the difference, local taxpayers have contributed a greater share to fulfill these services.
But county commissioners, controlling the cash-strapped budget, can’t keep increasing how much Wraparound receives, considering others want money as well from the county’s $27 million everyday operating budget to either maintain or enhance a variety of public services.
So local officials overseeing Erie County’s Wraparound program sought funds in a unique way.
What is Wraparound?
Wraparound helps families in Erie County with at least one child age 17 or younger. Families with complex needs are typically referred to the program — by schools, children services, mental health professionals, the courts and other agencies — because they have at least one ongoing, troubling issue seeking resolution. After learning about a family’s particular challenges, officials devise a plan and help to implement it with the child and family. A team facilitator works with a family to identify up to 10 people who know the family the best, such as a close friend or minister. They all form a team and work together to achieve goals chosen by a family to conquer the unresolved issue. “These are for families who don’t respond well to traditional services in the system,” Erie County Juvenile Court Judge Robert DeLamatre said. “It’s a program for families who aren’t doing well.” For questions call 419-627-7782 or 419-624-6355.
They banded together with similarly situated colleagues in Lucas, Sandusky and Seneca counties in hopes of landing some state money for Wraparound services.
This quartet jointly applied for the Strong Families, Safe Communities grant. If approved, each county stands to receive $75,000 in state money for Wraparound-related services.
The $75,000 represents about half of what local taxpayers contributed for Wraparound in 2013.
It’s not known when local officials will learn if they received state funds or not.
“We are applying for the grant to collaborate, share costs and expand service capacity,” Erie County Juvenile Court Judge Robert DeLamatre said.
DeLamatre, overseeing the county’s wraparound program, submitted data pointing to many local families requiring Wraparound services. The program assisted 113 families from 2011 through 2013 and aims to serve at least another 44 in 2014.
Additional money would mean helping more families.
“We have sufficient funding to operate currently, but it’s not optimal,” DeLamatre said. “While we would be disappointed, we will continue to operate normally if we are not successful in obtaining the grant”
In recent years, Erie County taxpayers continue to pay a greater portion for Wraparound services:
•2013: 38 families served at a cost of $182,200, with $150,300 coming from county taxpayers and $31,900 in state funds.
•2012: 47 families served at a cost of $166,900, with $105,500 coming from county taxpayers and $61,400 in state funds.
•2011: 28 families served at a cost of $196,400, all through a federal grant.
Source: Erie County Common Pleas Court