CJFS Recommends New Approach to Connect the Working Poor to Career Paths

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Miranda Pomiecko: (216) 698-2546; mpomiecko@cuyahogacounty.us 
Tina Coleman: (216) 592-2739; tina.coleman@jfs.ohio.gov 

The department’s approach to TANF recipients is being overhauled

– Cuyahoga Job and Family Services (CJFS), part of Cuyahoga County Department of Health and Human Services, has recommended to Cuyahoga County Council a $7 million Enterprise Workforce Services contract award. This is a new streamlined approach to help Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients reach a meaningful career path and a family-sustaining wage. The primary focus of the contract is to prepare residents for a rewarding and progressive career path in two ways—referring each participant to one provider for the duration of their enrollment and focusing on providers that deliver a cohesive workforce program.

“We are always looking at ways to improve our services,” said Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish. “I am committed to connecting residents to jobs, and this new approach will play an important role in doing that.”

The recommendation from CJFS is for The Centers for Families and Children to receive $4.4 million and MAXIMUS Human Services, Inc. $2.6 million, to provide a comprehensive, equal access workforce training and supportive service to individuals receiving TANF.

“This contract is different,” said Kevin Gowan, Administrator for Cuyahoga Job and Family Services. “We designed this contract to go beyond the task of complying with federal work requirements, so we can place public benefit recipients in meaningful jobs that have career potential in the Greater Cleveland area.”

The project goals of this contract include:
  • Increasing participants’ employment in career paths with family-sustaining wages;
  • providing support to participants in maintaining program eligibility until they achieve self-sufficiency;
  • matching job-seekers to in-demand occupations within Northeast Ohio;
  • increasing participant job retention by assisting with barrier removal; and
  • working with employers and participants to increase the ability to achieve wage growth, advancement, and other forms of skill advancement.

The competitive and exhaustive selection process, which started with eight proposals, was conducted by 38 individuals representing internal and external interests. The review team was trained on the process and scoring standards and recommended the two highest rated proposals.

“The Centers for Families and Children and our El Barrio Workforce Program is thrilled to continue our partnership with Cuyahoga County,” said Elizabeth Newman, President and CEO of The Centers for Families and Children. “We are particularly excited that our new expanded approach includes a number of collaborative partners throughout the County to provide high-quality, integrated workforce and supportive services. We focus on helping people find a meaningful career path, but we also address barriers to success to create long-term career and financial stability.”

“It’s been our privilege and pleasure to provide employment services in Cuyahoga County these past three years,”
said Ilene Baylinson, MAXIMUS General Manager of U.S. Health and Human Services. “All of us at MAXIMUS appreciate this continued partnership with Cuyahoga Job and Family Services to help them fully realize their vision for this program.”

If approved by County Council, The Centers for Families and Children and MAXIMUS Human Services, Inc. can begin providing a streamlined, comprehensive training and supportive service to TANF recipients beginning July 1, 2019.