Summit County helps low-income residents and residents in need with laptops, wireless internet hotspots, diapers, home improvements and help cope with the “cliff of benefits”.
Summit County Council last week passed resolutions to allocate more than $ 2 million in federal funds to various programs and services.
The County Department of Employment and Family Services purchases 500 laptops and facilitates T-Mobile wireless hotspot internet connectivity for temporary assistance to eligible residents for needy families.
The devices aim to bridge the growing “digital divide” facing low-income families in the county. Enhanced digital access is intended to help people search and apply for jobs, participate in virtual education, and connect with healthcare providers.
Progressive Alliance Community Development Corp., a West Akron nonprofit, will coordinate device distribution and technical support.
The departmental council approved a resolution to purchase 500 Acer TravelMate laptops from the CDW government for $ 130,500 using TANF funds and a $ 383,985 TANF Agreement with T-Mobile for hot spot wireless Internet connectivity services, with a $ 91,000 TANF agreement with the Progressive Alliance CDC for the distribution and coordination of devices and services.
“The pandemic has deepened the already growing digital divide in Summit County and across the country. As workers and students walked home from their desks and classrooms, we saw the inequality of digital access and the inconvenience it has created, ”said Ilene Shapiro, County Director of Summit . “Providing laptops and hotspots to families in need will help them overcome these drawbacks and create meaningful opportunities for children and parents. “
To be eligible for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, residents must meet income criteria, be unemployed or underemployed, have a child 18 years or under, be pregnant or be 18 or less and be the head of their household.
Help overcome the “cliff of benefits”
The Board approved a TANF agreement of $ 500,000 with the Akron Urban League to provide employment preparation / placement and support services at the cliff edge of benefits for TANF-eligible families.
The cliff of benefits refers to declining public benefits, such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program), Medicaid, and child care, which occurs due to minor increases in household income. Losses in benefits are often not offset by new income, making it difficult to maintain employment, the county said.
Participants in the Urban League program will receive support for the transition to employment through an intensive case management model, which includes pre-employment training, career assessment, job training / certification, financial literacy / budgeting, barrier removal support services (such as referral services, transportation, child care and uniforms / tools / work supplies), employer engagement, job placement, coaching / mentoring and up to 18 months of job retention follow-up.
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In partnership with Summit County Public Health and Full Term First Birthday, Job and Family Services is creating a county-wide diaper bank for TANF-eligible families. With $ 75,000 in TANF funds, partners will coordinate the distribution of diapers, wipes and pull-ups for families in need. They will also hand out diapers, child safety items and parent essentials at community resource fairs in the county for pregnant women and parents.
The county’s community and economic development department should receive $ 1.4 million from the US Department of Energy and Department of Health and Human Services for the Home Weatherization Assistance Program. The funds will help provide home improvements, including new heaters, hot water tanks and insulation, to low-income residents of the county, which plans to complete a minimum of 131 home improvements with the funds. this year.
“People need help more than ever,” Shapiro said. “Since the start of the pandemic, we have listened to the needs of our residents and have done our best to support them. These investments represent Summit County’s commitment to helping everyone move forward to better circumstances and opportunities.
Previously approved board $ 250,000 and $ 200,000 TANF agreements with Greenleaf Family Center to provide child safety education services and distribute child safety items and basic needs to pregnant women and parents of young children, and to provide auto repairs and services related to newly employed TANF eligible customers, respectively.
Council also previously approved the purchase of 800 HP Chromebooks from the CDW government for $ 208,000 to further bridge the digital divide, including 350 for the summer youth education program; 250 in the Building Opportunities for Sustained Success (BOSS) program; and 200 to adults who are forced to work who receive cash assistance with minor children.
The county also used TANF money to fund science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) program services for students in grades three through six for the Akron Urban League; entrepreneurship summer camp services and STEAM Summer Enrichment Camp Services for the Emmanuel Christian Academy; and summer camp reimbursement services for the Early Years Resource Center.
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To request TANF assistance, visit Summitdjfs.org/resources/apply-over-the-phone.html. To request HWAP assistance, visit co.summitoh.net/pages/HWAP.html.