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October 30, 2014
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$2.6 million sought for human services

Department supervisor James Chapman and 11 members of the Wayne County Probation Department are pictured on July 17, as the county commissioners honored them with a proclamation during the state’s Probation and Parole Supervision Week.
TRR photo by David Hulse

By David Hulse
July 30, 2014

HONESDALE, PA — The Wayne County commissioners authorized the county’s human services department to file for 2014-15 “block grant” funding of $2,601,930.

Department Director Andrea Whyte said the money funds the bulk of county programs including drug and alcohol abuse, disability and homeless services.

Whyte lauded the state block grant format for funding, which is now in its third year. Rather than providing line-by-line funding, the block grant allows flexibility to move money around the categories in the service area. “We’re very grateful for it,” she said.

Critics of the program say that the lack of line-item funding has withdrawn formerly available funding from other providers of satellite services.

Whyte said federal funding is included and there would be no need to budget locally for the $721,687 county match.

Whyte said programs have benefitted. In 2012-13, the county was able to find employment for only 12 clients. “Now, 25 persons from the program are working and we hope to go further. Placing the right person in the right position is one result of flexible funding,” she said.

State funding allocations are based on anticipated state revenues. Commissioner Wendell Kay noted that the human services committee of the statewide county commissioners’ association is not sure that the goal of more revenues will be met, “and there could be January corrections. How flexible are we?” he asked.

Whyte agreed that there was a 10% correction two years ago, “which still has not been restored.”

She said all program expansion is staged according to funding, and that the department is always looking into supplemental competitive grants. “We try to be cautious,” she said.

In other business, the commissioners honored 12 members of the Wayne County Probation Department with a proclamation during the state’s Probation and Parole Supervision Week (see photo and caption at right).

The commissioners additionally approved three 2013-14 state grant applications that fund adult probation and reimburse salaries.

They also approved recommendations for two Greenways grants, including $84,625 for Salem Township and $84,220 for Berlin Township; and compliance data for $404,939 of Community Development Block Grant spending dispensed in 2013.

Ryan Swift was appointed as a full-time corrections officer, and Samantha Cummings was elevated from caseworker 1 to caseworker 2 at the Human Services Department.