Wednesday, November 16, 2011
As Economy Sours, Demand For County Human Services Increases
With the exception of Veterans' Affairs, whose $278,000 budget is paid solely by the County, its current contribution is 7.1% ($13.5 million) of the cost of numerous human services. But noting the decline in reimbursements, Marcus asks, "At what point do we stop backfilling for the state and federal governments?"
Because of various cuts, the County is paying $600,000 for a program that encourages older adults to remain in the community with some degree of independence. In addition to home delivered meals and counseling, the County provides services at 12 different senior centers. 4,900 people participated in this program in 2010. This year, Marcus predicts that over 5,000 people will be getting assistance by year's end. Yet over $400,000 in programs have been cut.
In addition to Meals on Wheels and senior centers, the County provides "older adult protective services" to senior victims of predatory behavior. Marcus noted a disturbing trend in which "[p]eople are exploiting the frail elderly for their resources."
In 2008, there were 66 requests for older adult protective services. In 2010, that number had skyrocketed to 129, and this year's numbers are about the same.
Ron Angle noted that we spend $90,000 to house someone in a nursing home when many of them could get by in their own homes with just another $1500-1600 per month. "We have lost our way as a system," responded Marcus.
Children, Youth & Families
What could be more important than protecting our most precious asset, our children, from abuse and neglect? Marcus wants $4 million for this program next year, some of it to make up for state and federal cuts. "I'm just asking for one year," he pleaded, as he and other counties work with the state to increase reimbursements.
Currently, 212 Northampton County children are in placement. The high this year was 256.
In 2010, there CYF investigated 420 allegations of child abuse. This year, there will be a 10% increase. After the Penn State scandal, there were 12 reports of child sexual abuse, over the Veterans Day holiday.
Altogether, there were 2,043 requests for child protective services of one form or another in 2010. Marcus predicts a 50% increase this year.
This program assists between 900-1,000 families with children who experience significant delays in one or more areas of development. The County will kick in $906,300 this year, thanks in large part to declining reimbursements. Council Prez John Cusick told Marcus he "will not substitute local dollars to replace cuts made by the state," adding that Lehigh and other Counties are eliminating this program. But Marcus responded that the lower reimbursement rate is currently under appeal.
Allentown State Hospital closed its doors last years, except for a small acute care unit caring for 6 Northampton County residents. According to Marcus, these former state hospital patients "seem to enjoy their new setting" in group homes.
In 2009, 575 people were involuntarily committed, and that number is expected to remain about the same this year, unless they start reading blogs.