Edp Action Plan

Published on November 2016 | Categories: Documents | Downloads: 47 | Comments: 0 | Views: 276
of 37
Download PDF   Embed   Report

Edp Action Plan

Comments

Content

Report to Oswego County, New York
An Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Action Plan
November, 2015


Contents
Introduction

3

Executive Summary

4

Part 1: Diagnosis

9
Poverty in Oswego County Today

Part 2: Action Plan

Page 2
! of 37
!

10

24
Develop a Comprehensive Economic Development Plan

25

Implement One Stop Shop and No Wrong Door Strategy

27

Focus on Youth and Schools

29

Prioritize Community Development

32

Build a Culture of Constant Improvement

33

Best Practices

34

Introduction
czbLLC (czb) was asked to provide insights on the challenge of responding to the
problems of poverty in Oswego County. In partnership with county and private sector
officials, czb spent the last several months analyzing conditions in Oswego County,
conducting individual interviews and focus group with key community stakeholders, and
surveying service providers.
From preliminary work, czb produced an initial, draft “Findings and Recommendations”
report. In response to that document, members of the Oswego County Community
Health and Poverty Reduction Task Force came together to debate and consider the
forces behind stubbornly high (and rising) poverty rates in the county, and ask
themselves how local governments, non-profit groups, schools, faith-based
organizations, foundations, and private entities might adjust or expand their own efforts
to address poverty.
The Task Force established five working groups to collaborate on specific poverty-related
challenges facing the county (economic development, community development, social
services, youth programming, and the policies and programming designed to support
vulnerable individuals and families). Quantitative and qualitative findings were then
synthesized from initial analysis of County conditions with feedback received during the
Task Force’s (and its subcommittees’) work.
The merged result – this document – is meant to help the County continue making
progress toward a new, strategic approach to helping individuals and families in crisis. It
describes czb’s understanding of the challenges facing Oswego County – both the scale of
the problem (the size and composition of Oswego County’s poor population) and also the
roots of the problem (what stands in the way of individuals and families climbing out of
poverty and what stands in the way of service providers getting a larger impact from
their efforts). This document also lays out what is considered to be the county’s most
important next steps, based on feedback we at czb received from stakeholders in Oswego
County, as well as on a nationwide review of best practices in service delivery.
While more comprehensive than czb’s initial draft, this document is similarly meant to
be a working document: one that can guide action (realistic goals getting implemented)
and one that gets continually revised and refined as the county works through the
review, begins implementing, obtains new data and insights, and keeps moving forward.

Page 3
! of !37

Executive Summary
In spite of everyone’s best effort to improve, Oswego County continues to rank at or near
the bottom in the State of New York when it comes to unemployment, childhood obesity,
child abuse and neglect, and harmful health behaviors.
The County has suffered significant overall job loss the last 12 years (-1,881), and in
particular, has shed 2,398 manufacturing jobs since 2000. That’s a slow and continual
loss of more than a dozen manufacturing jobs every month since before 9-11.
While the County economy has gained back 517 positions, in general, good salary
manufacturing jobs have been replaced by lower wage service jobs. Miller, Birdseye, and
Nestle have left. Soon, New Orleans-based Entergy will shutter the Fitzpatrick plant,
laying off more than 600, a $70M direct hit to the County economy that will, in turn,
reduce demand for retail real estate by at least 80,000 square feet, and thus have
substantial secondary and tertiary effects.
Six years ago, 10 percent of the County’s population received food stamps; today that
figure is 21 percent.
In response to these and related challenges, the County Legislature created the
Community Health and Poverty Reduction Task Force in February 2015. Members of
CiTi, Oswego County schools, and the Shineman Foundation came together, and more
than 250 people were interviewed.
To categorically examine strategies for digging out, the Task Force broke into five multidisciplinary working teams: economic development, social services, youth and schools,
community development, and policy. This action plan is the culmination of the work of
these teams and czb, the consultant group retained by Oswego County to examine these
issues and help co-create a County-wide response.
Many hours of community dialogue, discussion, meetings and research went into the
effort to dissect and understand the economic and related poverty challenges facing
Oswego County. The resulting plan reflects the acknowledgment on the part of many in
Oswego County that the County’s level of poverty is far too high. The plan reflects
recognition that the unemployment rate is also unacceptably high, and that to respond
appropriately, many in the County will have to come together to act, and act boldly, and
do so now.
There is also a recognition that the County has severe substance abuse issues requiring
attention, that the housing needs of the homeless must be addressed, and that there
needs to be better care for those with mental health issues or disabilities. czb heard time
and again from County experts that people can’t get jobs if there are no jobs, and if the
jobs the County has aren’t accessible to people because of a lack of necessary training
and skills, change is needed, and needed now. Furthermore, though there’s success
Page 4
! of 37
!

throughout much of the County’s school system, educating children from resource- poor
environments continues to be a substantial challenge.
While the full report is comprised mainly of data that is a reminder of how much work
there is to do, perhaps the project’s most valuable contribution to the greater Oswego
community is not the presentation of particularly new information, but the observation
that these problems have been long known and in their stubborn resistance to the
community’s best efforts is a mandate to change existing approaches. Not only must the
County act now, but success will very likely hinge on a departure from how the County
has done business for years. As Lao Tzu wrote, “a journey of 1,000 miles begins with one
step,” and as President Kennedy said in his inaugural address, “…so let us begin…”
It is czb’s learned view that Oswego County should not and need not accept the current
situation as fixed, or somehow unrepairable; the County can do better. Over the course
of this project, czb interacted with such a wide range of committed and expert
stakeholders that it is impossible to not envision positive change if everyone in the
County comes together around this issue. The many experts czb worked with during this
project share the ambition of joining forces and implementing an aggressive set of
actions that can, over time, dramatically reduce poverty in Oswego County.
Doing so will require many kinds of effort on the County’s part. Chief among them is
that Oswego County cannot, in czb’s view, wait for the State or Federal Government to fix
this. The County itself — experts, residents, business leaders, clergy, everyone — will
need to come together and improve its aim, taking specific, focused actions to make a
measurable, positive, and lasting difference.
This Executive Summary outlines in condensed form the main report, which includes a
specific plan containing a range of action steps that are divided into five categories.
Implementation will require an all-hands-on-deck approach. Change will require a
willingness to experiment, an appetite to fail and learn, and a dogged determination to
keep pushing forward.

Page 5
! of !37

Action Steps
1. Create and Implement a Comprehensive Economic Development
Strategy
Prospects for economic growth in the County won’t come without a specific
and focused effort. czb strongly recommends that the County prioritize the
development of a strategy to retain existing and attract new businesses, and in
the process, diversify the Oswego County’s economy. At the same time, the
County needs to improve its infrastructure, and improve its labor force
through better job training. These necessities cannot wait for distant state and
federal dollars, either. czb strongly encourages the County to step forward and
act. The effort to self-underwrite bold and costly endeavors carries the parallel
(and lasting) benefit of improving the capacity for self governance and will
contribute greatly to increasing the County’s resilience.
2. Adopt a No Wrong Door Strategy and One-Stop Approach to Service
People struggling with poverty won’t find a ladder out if the County doesn’t
make programs and services easier to access and if those programs don’t share
an alignment of desired outcomes. The County’s aim must be for people
struggling with poverty to enter the economic mainstream and fully participate
in the community, not — as is so often the unintended result — of staying
impoverished but with less discomfort. Best practices in human services start
with integrated and well-coordinated programs, regardless of who runs them
or which agency they are a part of. Oswego County needs to build a culture of
coordination and collaboration that shares a clear focus, has shared goals and
evaluates progress using common metrics.
3. Youth and Schools
Combined with targeted annual steps, a long term view of the County’s youth
and schools can enable Oswego County to help the youngest generation get
free of poverty’s grip. Early childhood programs like home visiting and pre-K,
teen pregnancy prevention programs, mentoring, and other systems all can
work to give students a better chance at success. The County’s schools must
coordinate their efforts and adopt a 15 year view of student progress, starting
with a few grades each year. The goal must be that every child who enters preschool today will be on a 15 year path to breaking generational poverty.
4. Community Development as a Priority
The Oswego County community, itself — more so than any other entity,
including the State of New York or the federal government — must create the
path forward. This project serves as a reminder that the greater Oswego
County community wants to be involved in progress, and more importantly,
has much to contribute. Through mentoring, civic ambassador programs, and
other such efforts, everyone in the County is a stakeholder and has the chance

Page 6
! of 37
!

to exercise leadership. It is strongly recommended that County officials work
to bring the whole community on board; success depends on it.
5. Culture of Constant Improvement
Good enough is, in fact, not good enough. With limited resources, the County
must be guided by facts and data, and must focus on those programs and
initiatives that have produced or are producing the best outcomes. Authorities
owe it to stakeholders to fix or end programs that are not measuring up.
Officials need to identify, categorize and prioritize ineffective policies and
programs, following evidence and best practices to improve and upgrade them.
This action plan is the culmination of hours of community dialogue,
discussion, meetings and research. It took years to create the problems of
institutionalized and generational poverty and it will take focused work to fix
those problems. This plan is a thoughtful, action-oriented set of steps for
Oswego County New York to take. The point of this plan is not to follow it with
perfect fidelity but to learn and change as progress dictates. The point of this
plan is that Oswego County starts moving forward, stops making excuses and
begins to tackle, one by one, the obstacles to economic independence.


Page 7! of 37
!

This Page Intentionally Left Blank

Page 8
! of 37
!

Part 1: Diagnosis

Page 9
! of 37
!

Poverty in Oswego County Today
As with so much of the nation, Oswego County was hit hard by the Great
Recession of 2007-2008. However, while in recent years much of the country
(including most other counties in New York State) has largely recovered (or at
least substantially begun recovering), Oswego County has settled into a “new
normal” of higher unemployment rates, high poverty rates, and greater reliance
on public services. These new norms arrived with the economic downturn.
According to Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) from the Bureau of
Labor Statistics (BLS), the unemployment rate in New York State as a whole and
in each of its counties increased dramatically between 2007 and 2009, and has
remained high in the years since. This statewide pattern has been true for
Oswego County which has had one of the state’s highest unemployment rates; in
most years, Oswego County’s unemployment rate has been second only to Bronx
County, and greater than that in sixty of the state’s sixty-one other counties.

!
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS); czbLLC.

Oswego County’s high unemployment rate is a reflection, at least in part, of the fact that
the number of jobs in the county has been declining for at least a decade. Figures from
the Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns suggest that the county lost nearly 2,000
jobs between 2003 and 2013.
The number of jobs in Oswego County in 2013 (23,568) was actually nearly identical to
the number of jobs in the county in 2009 and 2010 (23,616 and 23,370, respectively),
when the county’s economy “hit bottom” during the recession.

Page 10
! of !37

As the total number of jobs has declined, the average wage in the county has remained
roughly unchanged (in constant dollars). Oswego County’s typical worker earned
roughly $37,000 during this entire decade.

Sources: County Business Patterns; czbLLC.

Sources: County Business Patterns; czbLLC.

Fewer jobs and stagnant wages, as well as other destabilizing forces brought about by
the economic downturn and housing market meltdown, forced more Oswego County
individuals and households to turn to public programs during the latter half of the
first decade of the 21st century. Ongoing job losses and wage stagnation have kept
these levels high. During the boom years (2005-2006), approximately 4,800
households received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in
Oswego County. By the end of the recession (2009-2010), this figure was closer to
8,000 households. As of January 2015, after roughly five years of recovery, this figure
was nearing 10,000.


Page 11
! of !37

!

Sources: New York State Department of Health and Human Services; czbLLC.

These recipients also represent a growing share of all Oswego County households:
while roughly 10% of all Oswego County households received SNAP as the recession
hit in 2007, 21% did in 2013.

2007

2013

10%

90%
Pct Pop Receiving SNAP
Rest of Oswego County

21%

79%

Pct Pop Receiving SNAP
Rest of Oswego County

Sources: New York State Department of Health and Human Services; czbLLC

.

The share of households receiving SNAP increased the fastest between 2007 and 2010
but has steadily increased (although at a slower pace) in the years since. The recent
increase (the uptick in recipients as a percent of all households between 2012 and 2013)
runs counter to trends in the state as a whole.

Page 12
! of 37
!

Sources: New York State Department of Health and Human Services; Census; czbLLC.

The same trends have held for Oswego County’s most vulnerable individuals and
families. Between 2001 and 2014, the number of public assistance cases in Oswego
County more than doubled – from 752 to 1,722.
Sources: New York State Department of Health and Human Services; czbLLC.

As with unemployment rates and SNAP benefits, but to an even greater extreme,
Oswego County public assistance trends run counter to those found across other New
York State counties.
In the years leading up to the Great Recession, less than 2% of Oswego County
households received public assistance – a rate equivalent to roughly half of the
statewide rate (which hovered just over 4% during these years). By 2013, though,
public assistance cases represented nearly 4% of the county’s households – putting
the county’s rate among the top 10 statewide (for this ranking all NY counties are
combined). As cases grew relative to households in Oswego County, they remained
steady everywhere else except for a handful of counties (Chautauqua, Broome,
Oneida, and Orleans).


Page 13
! of 37
!

Sources: New York State Department of Health and Human Services; Census Bureau; czbLLC.

As the number of public assistance cases has risen, so has the portion of recipients
relying on subsidies for a longer period time. By 2014, most (51%) public assistance
cases were supported using Safety Net funding rather than the federally-funded
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This was true of just one-third (33%)
of cases pre-recession.

Sources: New York State Department of Health and Human Services; czbLLC.


At the same time, the number of individuals receiving Supplemental Security
Income (SSI) has also been on the rise, up from 2,844 in 2001 to nearly 3,600 by
2014. Together these trends suggest that an ever larger portion of Oswego County’s
most vulnerable individuals and households is finding it harder to regain their
financial footing than similarly situated individuals and households in years past,
and that some may not be equipped to join the workforce at all (due, for example, to
some type of disability).


Page 14
! of 37
!

Sources: New York State Department of Health and Human Services; czbLLC.

Another concern is the rise in the number of Oswego County residents being treated for
serious drug dependency. Medicaid recipients going through detoxification or receiving
methadone treatments have both roughly tripled since the Great Recession.

Sources: New York State Department of Health and Human Services; czbLLC.

Between 2009 and 2013, the number of Oswego County residents being treated for
heroin addiction increased eight times over (from 12 to 95), while the number
statewide increased by just 14%.

Page 15
! of !37

Sources: New York State Department of Health and Human Services; czbLLC.

Taken together, these trends convey several important messages to service providers
and community stakeholders.


First is a clear need to proactively facilitate the transition back to work, which is
proving increasingly difficult. There are a number of levers the county can pull
in order to do so. These include increasing the number of jobs awaiting new
employees (economic development), enhancing the training and preparation
that out-of-work adults receive (workforce development), and ensuring that
programs and policies facilitate rather than impede the transition to financial
independence (creation of a mental health services system, as well the
enlargement of emergency and transitional housing options).



Second, there is a clear indication that a growing segment of Oswego County’s
most vulnerable are not prepared to enter the workforce at all – and may not be
able to do so for quite some time (if ever) – due to a disability of some kind, or
drug dependency.

While the Great Recession and the absence of a local recovery have had serious
implications for Oswego County adults, the county’s children are suffering to at least as
great a degree. This is true because poverty and its consequences are not evenly
distributed across all Oswego County household types. Rather, they are particularly
concentrated in families that include children under 18.

Page 16
! of 37
!

Between 2009 and 2013, for example, the poverty rate among County families
remained nearly identical to the poverty rates for families for the state as a whole, as
well as for the nation as a whole.
By contrast, the poverty rates for Oswego families that include children under 18
years of age has been steadily increasing since 2011, and is now pulling further away
from statewide and national rates for these families.
This is true to an even greater extreme when looking just at specifically female-headed
families with children under 18. Among these families, nearly half (49%) live below
the poverty level, compared to just 40% across the United States and only 38% in the
state as a whole.

Sources: American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013); czbLLC.

Page 17
! of ! 37

Fully one-fourth (25%) of Oswego residents under 18 – or one out of
every four county children – lives below the poverty level. On average, these
children do not do well climbing the economic ladder.
Current estimates of upward mobility suggest that the typical Oswego County child
with parents at the 25th percentile of national income (equal to about $26,000 today)
is expected to reach just the 43rd percentile as an adult. This puts Oswego County
among the highly-troubled third of New York State Counties that are the worst at
offering children springboards to opportunity.

!
Sources: Chetty & Hendren, 2015; czbLLC.

To be sure, the challenges that Oswego County adults face in finding and keeping a job
play a part in this. But of great importance is what awaits these children at school.
A recent survey of school staff and teachers in Oswego County highlighted how suspect
(rightly or wrongly) many are of the academic capabilities and ambitions of poor
students. Of those answering either “true” or “false” (and excluding those responding
with “I don’t know” or “not sure”),


The vast majority (94%) figure poor students have a more limited vocabulary
and have difficulties recognizing the importance of staying in school



Three-quarters (73%) feel that poor families have a negative view of education,



Two-thirds (62%) feel that poor students are more likely to have learning
disabilities than non-poor students.

Page 18
! of !37

!

!

!

!
Sources: Barbara Recchio (CiTi), 2015; czbLLC.
Note: Percentages do not include respondents answering “not sure” to these questions.

These expectations, along with the greater amount of stress and the often less amount
of preparation that poor children bring with them to school – when not countered by
explicit policies and initiatives to address achievement gaps – translate into
significantly lower proficiency rates among economically disadvantaged students.
Across the county, just 3% of economically disadvantaged middle school students tested
as proficient in reading or math; half, or nearly half, of poor students tested below basic
in both subjects. Another, if cruder, way of saying the same thing is that almost none of
the Oswego County’s poor middle school students are reading or math proficient. Since
this is well after the key learn to read, read to learn inflection point that occurs between
the 3rd and 4th grades, it means current strategies require a fundamental rethinking.1

Low-income 4th graders unable to meet NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) or similar
proficiency standards today, “are all too likely to become our nation’s lowest income, least skilled, least
productive, and most costly citizens tomorrow”. See “Early Warning: Why Reading By The End of Third Grade
Matters” by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (2010), and also US Department of Education, Institute of
Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics (2007).
1

Page 19
! of 37
!

Sources: New York State Department of Education, czbLLC.
Level 4 - Excels; Level 3 - Proficient; Level 2 – Partially proficient; Level 1 – Well below proficient

Improving the Prevention and Response System
In terms of responding to the growing challenge of poverty in Oswego County, the
underlying “problem” (and possibly therefore “opportunity”) has two parts. One is that
the many efforts in the county to tackle poverty are not typically all rowing in the same
direction. Even when they are, those doing the rowing do not feel that to be the case.
The other is that while those endeavoring to tackle poverty are overseeing a number of
programs and initiatives, the current menu is plainly not sufficient. In terms of
reducing poverty rates and reducing reliance on public assistance, it is not getting
service providers and their partners where they want to be.
The first needed step will be to shift the role that government programs, particularly
federal- and state-level programs, play in Oswego County.
Having a program has become more important than achieving results. The time to meet
program reporting requirements often crowds out time available to actually help
people. Delivering a program and counting its outputs can take attention away from
smartly delivering a program and tailoring deployment to achieve specific outcomes.
This is a central and serious core issue requiring attention. It means Oswego County
must proactively move away from business as usual in key areas. Providers’ and public
officials’ current focus on implementing individual programs and monitoring
implementation needs to move towards the county’s bigger goals of reducing poverty
and ensuring children’s and families’ long-term success. There must also be a shift in
the focus of time and energy from qualifying (or disqualifying) recipients for particular
programs and towards investing time and energy to work with individuals and families
to connect them with whatever it is that they need, no matter who provides it or who
pays for it. This is what it means to have everyone rowing in the same direction.
Making government programs, as well as those run by local governments or nonprofit
groups, means rather than ends will require that they be better coordinated and
streamlined with one another. This is one aspect of the work. “Optimizing” these
Page 20
! of 37
!

programs requires improving the intake process through which recipients can access
them. (The One Stop Shops, No Wrong Doors, and Community Ambassador strategies
described below all speak to this.)
At the same time, “optimizing” these programs also requires that better case
management be provided as recipients work towards and successfully transition to
independence. (Reducing the number of people receiving support through these
programs only saves the county money overall if the households that do leave
assistance successfully stay out of crisis and do not end up in emergency rooms or living
on the streets and otherwise undermining their children’s prospects for educational
success.)
Optimizing public programs, though, must occur inside a larger contextual framework.
These programs need to be seen as tools — some, but not all of the tools — to achieve
the county’s broader goal of improving the health of county residents and reducing
poverty rates. This is very different than considering the goals of these programs to be
the goals of the county, or considering the net of these programs to be the strategy for
addressing health and poverty in Oswego County.
This report begins to describe — and pushes stakeholders to further consider — what, in
addition to and separate of government programs, might be created or modified in
Oswego County (tools funded by the county, individual municipalities, the schools, local
corporations, nonprofits, or foundations) that would smartly co-exist with state and
federal government programs.
This larger contextual framework must be clear. Specifically, the planning and
community engagement processes associated with this report identified six overarching
themes that require focus.


First, there was agreement that greater levels of cross functional and cross
departmental and cross agency collaboration are going to be essential. It means
that each program — regardless of which agency is managing it — has to become a
tool re-aimed at helping individuals and families in crisis first get out of crisis and
then make their way towards self sufficiency. Each program has a potential role to
play in this effort, and successful delivery of program assistance cannot be
considered success unless the recipient of help is in fact making progress out of
crisis and onward.



Second, there was consensus that a “One Stop Shop” approach shaped by a “No
Wrong Door” culture and attitude will be helpful. Such an approach and ethic
can increase the opportunities for individuals and families in need to connect with
the services and programs the county provides. The work being modeled in Arizona
at the Pima County One-Stop is an excellent example where such an approach is in
use.

Page 21
! of 37
!



An important third theme was that merely linking the right program at the right
time to one in crisis will often not be enough, even though just that will be an
improvement over the status quo. Promoting and instituting a personal
empowerment approach to service delivery can make receiving assistance a
positive, life-changing, and empowering experience. The Bishop’s Storehouse of the
Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints demonstrates the breadth and
sophistication of Mormon social networks and is a model for volunteerism and
stewardship of a shared community challenge. In how The Bishop’s Storehouse
distributes assistance - pay what you can, but pay your tithing first - personal
empowerment is a key element of what the Mormon’s regard to be a community
partnership.



Fourth, instead of working in isolation, there was agreement that multidisciplinary, full-family services need to be better coordinated. It is important that
case management co-evolve with recipient progress. This much needed approach to
social services delivery in Oswego County has very successful analogues in Teambased Medical Care provided to patients at the Mayo Clinic, Salt Lake-based
Intermountain Health Care, and Geisinger Community Health.



The fifth big theme was the unilateral agreement that schools have to be the
county’s springboard for opportunity. Figuring out how to ensure that all
children in Oswego County are given the opportunity to succeed is paramount, so
developing the systems that make progress towards ensuring all children in Oswego
County graduate from high school with the academic skills required of work or
college, and with the life skills required to manage a household is critical



Finally, improving the path out of poverty for more Oswego County individuals and
households is made more successful by — and increases the success of —
complementary efforts aimed at increasing the quality of life across the county and
growing the county’s economy. Because these are inherently linked, it is
important to connect social services, community development and economic
development.


Page 22
! of !37

!

Keeping an eye on this larger mission, not letting it (the larger mission) be overtaken by
the objectives or rules of individual programs, and acting upon these six overarching
themes, requires a multi-pronged approach and a commitment from top to bottom to
the following:







Shifting the County’s Approach to Social Service Delivery
Making Schools a Springboard to Great Things
Filling Key Gaps in Physical and Mental Health Services
Filling Key Gaps in Support for Ex-Offenders
Building wealth for individuals and families while also building thriving
communities in a strong economy
Continually Assessing Progress toward the Larger Mission and the
Effectiveness of Particular Programs

Page 23
! of !37

Part 2: Action Plan
The following Action Plan has been created to help to address the challenges outlined
previously. This plan is not an end point. It is intended to be updated and refined
regularly as some tasks are completed and new ones are added. It should evolve as new
information is learned. Through regular reporting, clear metrics and governing
oversight, it should become a guiding document to focus Oswego County efforts. The
following Action Plan is presented as a to do list of projects and tasks for Oswego County
to undertake.

Page 24
! of !37

Develop a Comprehensive Economic Development Plan

Even if Oswego County’s economy were restored to pre-deindustrialization strength, as
many as one in every two impoverished Oswego households would still need intensive
support as they are not presently ready to participate in the economy in a meaningful
way.2 Nevertheless, without jobs, there is no path out of poverty. Oswego must develop
and implement a comprehensive economic development plan that engages every aspect
of the community.
Take Responsibility for the Economic Development Strategy
[Effective Practices to Model: SC Coordinating Council for Economic Development]

Identify, and if needed hire, key staff.

Identify key community partners and agencies to work on this effort.

Establish time-lines and deliverable dates for all tasks.

Develop clear and trackable metrics to monitor progress on this work.

Develop clear reporting on the status of the Economic Development Strategy.

Create a regular cycle of review and updates to the Economic Development
Strategy to ensure it evolves and changes as Oswego County learns and
implements.
Attract New Businesses, Retain Existing Businesses and Diversify the
Economy.
[Effective Practices to Model: Manchester/Bidwell (Pittsburgh), YouthBuild]
Promote infrastructure. For example, Oswego County’s High Speed Internet

Loop, the Port of Oswego, and Oswego’s Electric Transmission
Infrastructure.
Work to develop and attract businesses along the High Speed Internet

Corridor.
Work towards having Universal Broadband in the County.

Promote tourism and quality of life resources, water, weather, woods, etc.

Explore avenues to promote agriculture and businesses involved in “growing,

distributing, and eating local.”
Continue promoting business development with the tools Oswego has, the

IDA, and tax exemptions.
Consider other incentives to attract new businesses.


This is an important note, for it clarifies the both-and nature of the county’s challenge. Oswego must BOTH
develop a stronger economy AND, REGARDLESS, successfully address the fact that half of those in crisis, job
presence aside, aren’t ready for employment.
2

Page 25
! of 37
!

Develop a More Skilled and Diversified Workforce.
[Effective Practices to Model: Manufacturing Advocacy/Growth Network (NE Ohio]
Work with businesses to align training to their workplace and their

businesses needs.
Develop and fund more apprenticeships, on the job training and internship

opportunities.
Develop better ways to collaborate on trade training and business skills

curriculum development.
Fund training to allow for more local people to be “job ready.”

Tailor career specific job training and college degree programs at CiTi and

local colleges.
Track the number of certificates and credentials earned by Oswego County

residents and use these to attract related employers.
Reduce unemployment rates by reducing the number of able workers on
assistance.
[Effective Practices to Model: SCWorks (Greenville, SC)]
Fund investments in people.

Identify “able but unemployed” workers and support them to prepare for a

job or career.
Each head of household that returns to the workforce represents avoided

spending that can be spent elsewhere.


Page 26
! of !37

Implement a One-Stop and No Wrong Door Strategy for
Human Services Delivery

A lack of coordination, especially with scarce resources, makes it difficult to ensure all
programs are focused on the same goals and coordinated for the best results. Oswego
County needs to develop a countywide “One Stop and No Wrong Door” connection to
public assistance in collaboration with every provider in the County. The emphasis must
be on collaboration, integrated casework, and multi-generational and multi-disciplinary
care delivered to entire families. This has been identified as one of the most critical steps
to improve services and outcomes in Oswego County. The National Institutes for Health,
many state and local governments from Washington State to Illinois and others are
beginning to work in this way. Underlying this work must be a focus on evidence based
practices. All programs, whether workforce or health care, must move forward with a
goal of adopting and embracing evidence-based strategies that are proven to work and
discarding old approaches that do not produce the desired results.3
Adopt Shared Vision Across Relevant Agencies and Organizations
• One central location for assessment and orientation
• Culture shift
• Collaborative input on One-Stop design and purpose.
• Empowering experience.
Deploy An All-Hands-On-Deck Approach To The Work
• Establish clear roles for local government officials, emergency service providers,
and school personnel
• Train ambassadors to be familiarized with the “Menu of Services Available” and
the methods to contact the “One Stop” intake system.
• Establish regular communication, training and collaboration opportunities for
service providers and volunteers.
• Ensure all service providers (government, schools, counselors, social workers,
criminal justice system) are working on a common intake and referral
methodology, vocabulary, and protocols.
• Begin work on common data sharing and related efforts to easily support clients
between various programs.
• Help ensure service providers follow similar crisis intervention protocols.
• Ensure service providers utilize coordinated reporting and tracking methods.

National Institutes for Health, czbLLC, West Coast Poverty Center at the University of Washington,
Mathmatica Policy Research, The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, Washington State’s work on Best
Practices in State and Local Coordination Research, An evidence-based approach to organization evaluation
and change in human service organizations evaluation and program planning by Schalock, Lee, Verdugo,
Swat, Claes, van Loon, and Lee.
3

Page 27
! of 37
!

Focus On Helping People Change Their Lives.
• Administrators and recipients are partners in a “life-changing experience.”
• Emphasizing dignity and respect and goal setting.
• Team approach to coordinate “casework” among service providers.
• Address the integrated needs of children and their families.
Create A System That Is Trusted And Credible.
• Institute and enforce robust job search and work requirements.
• Enforce existing sanctions for violation of program requirements.
• Increase agency accountability and improve program management.
Make Sure The Resulting Welfare System Is Flexible.
• Enhancing eligibility requirements to ensure recipients also work to help
themselves.
• Ensuring eligibility requirements and program end points don’t discourage
people from earning more and rising out of poverty.
• Discouraging enrollment through more effective use of diversion programs.
• Institute more robust job training, search and work requirements.
• Impose stricter time limits on length of services.
• Enact tougher sanctions for violation of program requirements.
Governance Must Be Coordinated.
• Develop a governance model that brings all programs from social services,
courts, human services and schools together on a regular basis to set goals and
share information.
• Establish common metrics and goals for human service programs.
• Establish common metrics and goals for school-based programs help identify
best practices between school districts.
• Undertake team building and capacity building efforts so that counselors, caseworkers and the like can share, collaborate and learn from each other.
• Establish a team to devise a new intake approach.
• Establish a team to devise guidelines to help coordinate case management.
• Establish a team to develop priorities and plans for data coordination and
sharing between programs, starting with the easiest information to share.
Identify disclosure and other legal documents that clients can sign to authorize
the sharing of information.
• Establish a team to develop advocacy goals and priorities to improve the state
and federal guidelines of relevant programs.
• Develop a model, test, refine and then roll-out a system of community-based
intake centers utilizing a range of partners from non-profits to schools to faith
and other community organizations.


Page 28
! of 37
!

Focus on Youth and Schools

Children in poverty deserve support more than any others. First, because they are not
at fault for their economic standing and should not be expected to solve it. Second,
because helping them rise out of poverty will reduce the instances of poverty in the
future which benefits them and the entire community.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains a database of effective
and proven youth programs. From extensive efforts of others such as the Annie E. Casey
Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, American Honda, and the WK
Kellogg Foundation, much is known. From Home Visiting, pre-K, mentoring, pregnancy
prevention and a range of other programs, youth policy is an area where there are
extensive evidence-based programs to follow.
Effective programs don’t always deliver immediate results, but they do produce
results, and provided Oswego has the patience and focus to carry them out with
fidelity, good results can materialize in Oswego County.
These are programs that have been proven to help youth around a range of topics. As
Oswego County re-imagines its focus on its youth, it must first start with an iron-clad
commitment to follow evidence-based practices that are able to
help move children forward.
Improving literacy rates in early elementary school, decreasing teen pregnancy as well
as early childhood programs that reduce toxic stress from poverty on a child’s brain
during sensitive times of development are all areas that deserve focus.
This means that much loved programs, if they do not have evidence behind them for
impact on school success or other metrics, need to be re-evaluated against other
programs that may have greater impact. Resources are not endless, so a focus on
evidence-based practice is essential.
Oswego County should and can be place that nurtures and develops children who
are happy, healthy, self-confident, considerate and well-rounded, and able to live up
to their fullest potential. While there are important efforts, like teen pregnancy
prevention, that have have quick results, other youth initiatives will require Oswego
to take a longer term view of its progress. A 15 year plan with annual benchmarks,
progress tracking and regular review and refinement is recommended. This cohort
strategy requires the long-view, but it helps break out of the constant cycle of crisis
and instead focus on year-to-year progress and improvement.

Page 29
! of !37

Governance And Expectations Must Be Aligned.
• 15 Year Planning
• School districts should agree on a system to regularly report on the progress
of students, especially those in poverty so that they can review difference,
collect and share those “best practices.” This system then needs to be
created.
• School districts should develop a series of annual targets for student
progress over 15 years that start with earlier grades and ultimately that
cover pre-k and every school year. This effort should be designed to track
students throughout their academic career. The objective is to create ladder
to success for children with appropriate interventions targeted when
children are not moving up to the next rung on the ladder fast enough.
• A countywide governing structure should be developed to help school
districts and programs that serve youth coordinate goals, metrics and
training.
• School and county officials should review whether there is a role for a
Superintendent of Superintendents who can help coordinate, encourage and
facilitate best practices.
• School districts should work with human service programs to devise ways to
share information as much as possible to help coordinate the needs of their
students.
• Lifetime Relationships
• Oswego should adopt the goal of giving every child in poverty a long-term
school and community-based adult contact that can follow them through
their academic career.
• Schools should keep track of each student’s consistent adult contact(s).
• Schools should report on the number of children that have consistent,
engaged school or community-based adult contacts that have been in place
for multiple years.
• Prevention
• Oswego should establish a county-wide teen pregnancy prevention initiative
that works in coordination with the schools and charge it with following best
practices to reduce teen pregnancy in the County. The initiative would
identify and promote every existing program that works to deter teen
pregnancy. Gather data needed to further promote and fund them,
especially those that are working the best.
• Collaboration
• Counselors should be given opportunities to coordinate with human service
case workers to establish common intake, referral and crisis management
systems.
• Promote collaborations that will facilitate a “One Stop and No Wrong Door,
Multi-generational” care system.
• Develop a work group to develop and implement a 15 year plan to help
children rise out of poverty with clear metrics, goals and progress tracking.

Page 30
! of 37
!



Career Planning
• Mix goal-setting and career-track planning into the normal curriculum
starting in elementary school.
• Develop “Career Ladder Maps.”
• Promote business tours and job fairs at County schools to let children know
about local career opportunities.
• Track and encourage technical certificate attainment by students to help
develop students prepared for the Oswego workforce. Ensure certificates are
aligned with Oswego workforce needs.
• Work with businesses to align training at CiTi, One Stop and Colleges to
their workplace.
• Develop and fund apprenticeships, on the job training and internship
opportunities.


Page 31
! of 37
!

Prioritize Community Development

As demonstrated in focus groups and the civic participation that supported the
development of this report, it is known that Oswego County residents want to help
reduce poverty. To that end, mechanisms need to be developed to enable that to happen
in consecutive ways and at scale. It will be useful to develop a system of public outreach
to facilitate the “One Stop and No Wrong Door” collaboration among government,
schools, and faith organizations to enhance human services delivery and strengthen
communities. During the development of this report, much energy was also directed to
the transportation challenges in Oswego County that those in crisis face. Developing an
urban transportation system in a rural area is very difficult. Yet, there is a need to
improve access to services as some families miss appointments and don’t avail
themselves of help because of transportation. To address these realities, a focus on local
points of contact for services — all that strategically feed into the proposed One- Stop
system — is suggested.
Develop Community Participation Opportunities.
• Implement an Ambassador Program to provide community mentors and
guides that can help support residents throughout the County.
• Develop, test and then roll-out community intake centers utilizing school, faith
and other partners to bring services to the residents that need them.
• Train a first group of mentors to work in the community.
• Develop metrics and tracking of the work of mentors and ambassador’s to evaluate
these efforts and refine them over time.
• Encourage and track the participation of adults in youth programs. Give
recognition to communities/neighborhoods that have high levels of
participation.
Develop A Local Version Of The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) To
Rebuild Infrastructure
• Develop projects based on Community needs.
• Based on project needs, generate funding to create on the job training programs,
community service projects or apprenticeship programs.
• Find ways to get the community involved and promoting specific projects.
• Find ways to recognize or reward participants.
• Creatively tie packages of additive benefits to CCC projects, wages, and do so
through a marriage of LDS Bishop’s Storehouse approaches and those deployed
by organizations like Las Artes in Tucson, Arizona, Youth Radio in Oakland, the
Eagle Rock School in Estes Park, and the Living Classrooms Foundation in
Baltimore.
Increase community pride, increase property values, encourage property
ownership.
• Develop a county-wide housing plan to address the complexities of stabilizing
weak areas in Fulton and Oswego while aiming for a supply of affordable housing.
• Accelerate efforts to create and operate a County Land Bank, and engage town and
village officials in associated planning processes.

Page 32
! of !37

Build a Culture of Constant Improvement

There were a number of areas of policy brought up during this process that require
additional thought, work and evaluation. Previous notes speak to what needs to be
created or modified or otherwise improved. In contrast, the following represents areas
where more research and consideration are needed. It is important not to get
distracted by research such that the above actions items are not taken. The following
are questions that merit additional attention:
How Can Oswego County Change Its Welfare System To Break
Generational Poverty And Encourage Independence?
• Embracing a genuine shift in approach so that human service professionals and
those in crisis are partners will be tremendously beneficial. So too will tying
benefits (especially well crafted packages of meaningful extras) whenever possible
to tangible means for those in crisis to contribute. Making this a joint effort will
help make the relationships formed in the process potentially life-changing.
Evaluating the impacts of these shifts towards partnership and mutuality will be a
worthy area for constant improvement.
How Can the County Modify Program Benefits So That Doing Better Isn’t
Discouraged By Abrupt Changes To Benefits?
• The best intended policies and programs can unintentionally undermine progress
towards independence. When a good employee tells his employer that “he doesn’t
want to take an extra 8 hours of work and become employed full time because he
will lose benefits,” that is a policy that should be looked at.
• Evaluating the extent to which the range of policies and programs in use serve to
incentivize or weaken progress towards work and independence will be very
valuable.
How Can A Rural County Like Oswego Build A Transportation
System That Supports Those In Poverty At A Reasonable Cost?
• Rural counties across the nation are challenged by the great distances imposed on
struggling households to find and hold onto work, attend school and access
training, and obtain help when in crisis. Researching what works in places like
Maine (Coastal Maine Enterprises in Wiscasset), and Kentucky (Mountain
Association for Community Economic Development in Berea) will have long term
value to Oswego County.
How Can Mental Health And Substance Abuse Systems Be Re-Imagined?
• Perhaps the single biggest hole in the County’s network of well-intentioned
systems is the glaring absence of a meaningful mental health system with tools for
tackling addiction that is accessible to those in crisis. Researching the ways other
challenged counties are addressing this will be very valuable.


Page 33
! of ! 37

Best Practices
System Change
According to recent research (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/
PMC2992332/), “[f]ragmentation presents one of the biggest service delivery challenges
for a range of human service delivery systems.” This is true since multiple actors
typically serve the same client. Simply pooling efforts and resources, though, was found
to be “insufficient for coordination.” Successful collaboration, this study found, means
that care is “delivered in a consistent manner” with everyone “on the same page,” and
that it is “continuous or seamless” as clients transition to different levels of care. Case
management services are a key way to achieve this kind of service integration.
According to another analysis on program collaboration, integrating and coordinating
health and human services programs “can yield significant gains” (http://aspe.hhs.gov/
report/examples-promising-practices-integrating-and-coordinating-eligibilityenrollment- and-retention-human-services-and-health-programs-under-affordablecare-act).
Effective strategies include allowing one program to determine eligibility based on
information gathered through the intake process for another program, or even jointly
developed and operated eligibility infrastructure. These strategies save on
administrative costs (as they avoid duplication) and also ensure that “more consumers
can receive benefits for which they qualify.”
The following are additional resources to guide the creation of a central intake system
and gearing data collection to improve coordination between providers:
• http://www.clarityhumanservices.com/2014/12/best-practices-datacollection- centralized-intake-and-coordinated-assessment/
• http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Name/integratingevidence- based-clinical-and-community-strategies-to-improve-health
The following describes effective case management services:
• http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/~/media/publications/PDFs/
labor/ case_management_brief.pdf
The following is a searchable database of best practices in the area of substance abuse
and mental health:
• http://www.nrepp.samhsa.gov/
The following summarizes best and promising human service practices:
• http://www.workfirst.wa.gov/reexam/reexamdocs/Introuction.pdf
See (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S014971891400038X) for
approaches and “real life examples” for “how human service organizations can use an
evidence-based, self-assessment approach to organization evaluation to facilitate
continuous quality improvement and organization change.”

Page 34
! of !37

Schools
All Oswego County school districts must share the common goal to nurture children
who are happy, healthy, self-confident, considerate, well-rounded, and able to live up
to their fullest potential as constructive citizens. All county schools must have as an
explicit goal to graduate healthier students who are more prepared for work or college.
All school districts in the county must take a deliberate, comprehensive, unified
approach to assuring those students (and their families) who are most at risk for not
graduating are mentored and supported through deliberate, collaborative
interventions proven to increase their educational success.
Make Pre-K available to all children

Emphasize “reading at grade level” through school career

Focus on A, B, Cs – Attendance, Behavior, and Course Failure

Engage parents in their children’s education and school

Focus on confidence building and goal-setting – The 15 Year Plan

Increase collaboration between Oswego County school districts and create

more opportunities for sharing best practices between them.
The following is a guide to school based health care to support children’s mental health
needs:


http://www.schoolhealthcenters.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/
NASBHC.CSH- Mental-Health.pdf

The following are searchable databases of evidence-based youth programs:
http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/oah-initiatives/

teen_pregnancy/db/tpp- searchable.html
http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/oah-initiatives/teen_pregnancy/db/

http://www.del.wa.gov/publications/elac-qris/docs/Best_Practices_D3.pdf



Page 35
! of 37
!

Health Care
Roughly half of Oswego County’s struggling households face not just financial burdens
but health-related burdens as well. Substance abuse, physical or mental health
problems, and/or cognitive deficits stand between these householders and any hopes
of employment or long-term financial independence. The county needs to build the
capacity to help individuals address these challenges. The follow contains a guide to
the best evidence-based practices in the field of substance abuse and mental health:
http://www.samhsa.gov/ebp-web-guide/substance-abuse-prevention

The follow contains a guide to system change in the field of mental health for children in
poverty:
http://www.nccp.org/publications/pdf/text_1016.pdf



Page 36
! of !37

Closing Statement
Through the process of developing this report, the Community Health and Poverty
Reduction Task Force has taken the first steps of an enormous self-help project. The
results, if achieved as envisioned, will begin to reduce poverty and government
dependency in the County, and have the potential to increase the quality of life for all
residents. However, success will require an all-hands-on-deck approach from the
community. Everyone interested in results — anyone with expertise, experience or
simply the energy to help implement any aspect of the action items recommended — is
strongly encouraged to join the effort.
Lasting impacts can be achieved by mobilizing every ounce of effort and good-will the
community has to offer. It took many years to create the problems of institutionalized
and generational poverty in the County, and it will take focused work to turn things
around. To it's credit, Oswego County is headed in the right direction.

Page 37
! of !37

Sponsor Documents

Or use your account on DocShare.tips

Hide

Forgot your password?

Or register your new account on DocShare.tips

Hide

Lost your password? Please enter your email address. You will receive a link to create a new password.

Back to log-in

Close