Pittsburgh

Allegheny County’s spending plan for initial round of American Rescue Plan funding approved – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 2021-09-28 22:51:00 –

Allegheny County’s spending plan for the initial round of American Rescue Plan federal funding was approved Tuesday evening, officials announced. The plan will invest $99.75 million into public health and government services and also commits a portion of funding to offset negative economic impact pursuant to the federal law, county officials said. Key investments include $5 million to volunteer fire companies and emergency medical services, $18.25 million for county-wide radio replacements and public safety radio system upgrades, $10 million to support children initiatives, and $9 million for crisis prevention and response including expansion of mobile teams and peer respite. Overall, the 2021 spending plan calls for $37.75 million to be invested in public health, $15 million to offset negative economic impact and $47 million in government services. Volunteer fire departments and emergency medical services will receive $5 million. Many volunteer fire departments rely on fundraising for much of their budget in order to respond to calls.”You’ll find out when you’re dealing with volunteer fire departments, guys will stand in fires, they’ll stand in floods, they’ll stand in the snow, but the last thing they want to do is stand on your front porch and ask you for money,” West Homestead Volunteer Fire Dept. Chief John Dindak said.Dindak said the fairs, fundraisers, anything that involved interacting with people was nearly impossible due to the pandemic. Donations lessened significantly as so many were facing financial challenges.His fire station had to keep up with an average of 500 calls per year while affording the extra expense of PPE and other protective gear needed to keep firefighters safe on the job.“You’ve got to chase the dollars, and I’m glad the politicians are at least trying to help us and thinking outside the box. If they don’t have the wherewithal, this funding will at least help, but it’s not going hurt their cause, because I know all the way up the line, I’m sure gas taxes, everything is down. So, I appreciate their effort, and you can bet my application’s going to be right there,” Dindak said.A Fiscal Recovery Funds dashboard has been added to the Budget and Finance Department’s website with basic information on the 2021 spending plan, pending council approval. Additional information on the priorities set forth for the first segment of funding follows:Volunteer Fire Companies, Emergency Medical Services$5 MillionOne of the biggest impacts of the pandemic has been the challenge faced by volunteer fire companies and emergency medical services in terms of fundraising and manpower. For years, Pennsylvania has sought to address the growing need to recruit more volunteers to support local fire companies. While numerous studies have been done, most companies still face the task of constant fundraising to support their operations, an effort that was impacted by COVID-19. In some cases, fundraising may account for nearly 50% of budgets – and the lack of rentals, bingos, fish fries, and other fundraising activities put these organizations in greater peril.The same is true for emergency medical services which receive funding from calls for emergency and non-emergency transfers. People were not going to the hospital because they were afraid of getting sick, so transfers were minimal which also impacted the budgets of companies already struggling to maintain services. Additionally, volunteers from both fire companies and medical services have decreased as members struggled with their own needs, as well as health and other concerns of the risk for continuing in those roles.Distribution of funds to the approximately 200 agencies will be made similarly to distribution under the CARES Act. Agencies will each receive $25,000 after they acknowledge how funds must be used and return that acknowledgment to the county.Public Safety Countywide Radio Replacements, Upgrades $18.25 MillionEmergency services has also seen agencies struggling with old, undependable communications equipment. Dedication of funding will provide each of the over 300 fire, EMS and police departments across the county with several new reliable radios. While not a replacement of all radios, each agency will receive new units to replace their oldest units. The average cost of the radios is $3,000. Agencies will be provided with handheld and/or vehicle-mounted units, as needed.Children’s Fund, Children Initiatives$10 MillionOne of the needs in the county that became evident during the pandemic was the need for more robust, sustainable and reliable child care. The funding will be used to build the capacity of high-quality child care and support existing programs.There are existing gaps such as the need for care between infant and toddler, and in before and after school care. Almost half of the funding will be used to support the provider community to support their business needs. This will increase capacity and allow for the continued development of programs to meet community needs.Another immediate need is for affordable child care for families who earn more than 200% of the poverty level because existing programs stop at that level when providing financial support. Funding will be used to support existing programs so they can serve more children and youth through an increased number of job-ready staff.Mental Health Crisis Prevention and Response$9 MillionThe pandemic has also caused an increase in the need for mental health services due to loss of life, health impacts, financial insecurity including loss of employment, isolation and disruption to the daily routine. The commitment of funding to crisis prevention and response would provide more resources for emergencies but will also increase services for respite and diversion care.The Western Psychiatric Diagnostic Evaluation Center reports that it has seen an increase of 50% in the number of unique consumers seeking help. The resolve mobile teams have also seen an average 17% increase in unique consumers. Based on national surveys showing that 36% of Americans believe that the pandemic is having a serious impact on their mental health, the impact on the county means that over 300,000 residents may be in need of services. While some people are recovering their mental health, others will face new or worsening mental health issues that persist or appear down the road.Allegheny County has seven mobile teams with two crisis clinicians each to respond to needs in the community. With this funding, the Department of Human Services will be able to add mobile teams to focus on municipalities with higher needs. Additionally, there are two walk-in centers for crisis within Allegheny County, with a great need for more short-term beds that can be used for crisis stabilization and jail diversion or reentry. The department would partner to create smaller hubs that include peer respites and will allow for greater intervention with residents in crisis with help provided earlier and in more ways.

Allegheny County’s spending plan for the initial round of American Rescue Plan federal funding was approved Tuesday evening, officials announced.

The plan will invest $99.75 million into public health and government services and also commits a portion of funding to offset negative economic impact pursuant to the federal law, county officials said.

Key investments include $5 million to volunteer fire companies and emergency medical services, $18.25 million for county-wide radio replacements and public safety radio system upgrades, $10 million to support children initiatives, and $9 million for crisis prevention and response including expansion of mobile teams and peer respite.

Overall, the 2021 spending plan calls for $37.75 million to be invested in public health, $15 million to offset negative economic impact and $47 million in government services.

Volunteer fire departments and emergency medical services will receive $5 million. Many volunteer fire departments rely on fundraising for much of their budget in order to respond to calls.

“You’ll find out when you’re dealing with volunteer fire departments, guys will stand in fires, they’ll stand in floods, they’ll stand in the snow, but the last thing they want to do is stand on your front porch and ask you for money,” West Homestead Volunteer Fire Dept. Chief John Dindak said.

Dindak said the fairs, fundraisers, anything that involved interacting with people was nearly impossible due to the pandemic. Donations lessened significantly as so many were facing financial challenges.

His fire station had to keep up with an average of 500 calls per year while affording the extra expense of PPE and other protective gear needed to keep firefighters safe on the job.

“You’ve got to chase the dollars, and I’m glad the politicians are at least trying to help us and thinking outside the box. If they don’t have the wherewithal, this funding will at least help, but it’s not going hurt their cause, because I know all the way up the line, I’m sure gas taxes, everything is down. So, I appreciate their effort, and you can bet my application’s going to be right there,” Dindak said.

A Fiscal Recovery Funds dashboard has been added to the Budget and Finance Department’s website with basic information on the 2021 spending plan, pending council approval.

Additional information on the priorities set forth for the first segment of funding follows:

Volunteer Fire Companies, Emergency Medical Services
$5 Million

One of the biggest impacts of the pandemic has been the challenge faced by volunteer fire companies and emergency medical services in terms of fundraising and manpower. For years, Pennsylvania has sought to address the growing need to recruit more volunteers to support local fire companies. While numerous studies have been done, most companies still face the task of constant fundraising to support their operations, an effort that was impacted by COVID-19. In some cases, fundraising may account for nearly 50% of budgets – and the lack of rentals, bingos, fish fries, and other fundraising activities put these organizations in greater peril.

The same is true for emergency medical services which receive funding from calls for emergency and non-emergency transfers. People were not going to the hospital because they were afraid of getting sick, so transfers were minimal which also impacted the budgets of companies already struggling to maintain services. Additionally, volunteers from both fire companies and medical services have decreased as members struggled with their own needs, as well as health and other concerns of the risk for continuing in those roles.

Distribution of funds to the approximately 200 agencies will be made similarly to distribution under the CARES Act. Agencies will each receive $25,000 after they acknowledge how funds must be used and return that acknowledgment to the county.

Public Safety Countywide Radio Replacements, Upgrades
$18.25 Million

Emergency services has also seen agencies struggling with old, undependable communications equipment. Dedication of funding will provide each of the over 300 fire, EMS and police departments across the county with several new reliable radios. While not a replacement of all radios, each agency will receive new units to replace their oldest units. The average cost of the radios is $3,000. Agencies will be provided with handheld and/or vehicle-mounted units, as needed.

Children’s Fund, Children Initiatives
$10 Million

One of the needs in the county that became evident during the pandemic was the need for more robust, sustainable and reliable child care. The funding will be used to build the capacity of high-quality child care and support existing programs.

There are existing gaps such as the need for care between infant and toddler, and in before and after school care. Almost half of the funding will be used to support the provider community to support their business needs. This will increase capacity and allow for the continued development of programs to meet community needs.

Another immediate need is for affordable child care for families who earn more than 200% of the poverty level because existing programs stop at that level when providing financial support. Funding will be used to support existing programs so they can serve more children and youth through an increased number of job-ready staff.

Mental Health Crisis Prevention and Response
$9 Million

The pandemic has also caused an increase in the need for mental health services due to loss of life, health impacts, financial insecurity including loss of employment, isolation and disruption to the daily routine. The commitment of funding to crisis prevention and response would provide more resources for emergencies but will also increase services for respite and diversion care.

The Western Psychiatric Diagnostic Evaluation Center reports that it has seen an increase of 50% in the number of unique consumers seeking help. The resolve mobile teams have also seen an average 17% increase in unique consumers. Based on national surveys showing that 36% of Americans believe that the pandemic is having a serious impact on their mental health, the impact on the county means that over 300,000 residents may be in need of services. While some people are recovering their mental health, others will face new or worsening mental health issues that persist or appear down the road.

Allegheny County has seven mobile teams with two crisis clinicians each to respond to needs in the community. With this funding, the Department of Human Services will be able to add mobile teams to focus on municipalities with higher needs. Additionally, there are two walk-in centers for crisis within Allegheny County, with a great need for more short-term beds that can be used for crisis stabilization and jail diversion or reentry. The department would partner to create smaller hubs that include peer respites and will allow for greater intervention with residents in crisis with help provided earlier and in more ways.

Allegheny County’s spending plan for initial round of American Rescue Plan funding approved Source link Allegheny County’s spending plan for initial round of American Rescue Plan funding approved

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