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UCHRA Presents Pilot Program For State Funding Thursday

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
UCHRA Presents Pilot Program For State Funding Thursday

UCHRA will make its presentation to the state Thursday for its chance for a $25 million grant over three years.

Pilot program presentations from 17 entities are scheduled. The entities competing for grants to change how assistance is delivered to families. Executive Director Mark Farley said countless hours have been spent preparing.

“The basis of our proposal would be to develop a relationship based model for social services,”Farley said. “One thing that we have learned in talking with many of the families that are going through and using these services today is that it is very cold and siloed and fractured.”

Farley said the agency wants to implement prosperity coaches to help families overcome barriers. Farley said at the same time, tackle the idea of the benefit cliff. Farley said the anomaly caps how much assistance an individual can receive.

“Both at the state and federal level where many participants are capped at how much money they can receive, and once they receive or earn a certain amount of money, it will cause them to lose their benefits all at one time,” Farley said. “That is a very intimidating situation for a young family to go through, so in our proposal, we’re projecting a tapered process. As people gain more income, then their services would be tapered off instead of just dropping off.”

Farley said an eight-person team over the last three months has worked on the proposal as well as multiple local agencies and faith-based groups. Farley, Community Services Assistant Director Megan Spurgeon and Highland Residential Youth Program Director Shaquawana Wester will present Thursday around 3:00 p.m.

“We’ve had immense buy-in, and we’ve been very excited,” Farley said. “I was looking at a list of partner groups that have joined with us in the past three-months. It’s an extensive list. I will say one group that has really stood out is the faith-based community. Our churches have been great to work with in this process.”

The Tennessee Department of Human Services in partnership with the Families First Community Advisory Board will host the presentations for the Implementation Grants. It’s a part of the state’s plan to effectively put federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds in use on a local level.

This first phase included awarding Planning Grants of up to $500,000 each to public-private partnership dedicated to developing innovative strategies to move Tennesseans with economic, social, and developmental vulnerabilities beyond their current circumstances and on to self-sufficiency. UCHRA was one of the receiving entities.


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