Year in Review: Initiatives' Advancement Strengthens Erie County

Modified: April 27, 2016 8:55am

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Growing Implementation of Initiatives for a Stronger Community Helps County Residents 

ERIE COUNTY, NY— One year after being released, the Poloncarz administration’s health and human services plan, Initiatives for a Stronger Community, continues to be successfully implemented. Released in Spring 2015, the Initiatives are designed to use innovative programs and broad partnerships to strengthen the services provided by Erie County for residents in or at-risk of falling into poverty.

“I tasked the Commissioners of several county departments to collaborate on a plan to help those in need,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “These public servants rose to the challenge and developed 49 initiatives designed to strengthen the effectiveness of our health and human services programs, thereby creating a better life for our constituents. One year after releasing this plan, I am proud to report that, unlike many plans developed in our community, the Initiatives for a Stronger Community are being successfully implemented.”

The initiatives are grouped into four main categories, including Employment & Financial Security, dedicated to breaking down barriers to employment opportunities and financial security and creating greater self-sufficiency; Strong Families, Strong Schools, Strong Children, a section that recognizes the challenges our young people face and identifies ways to support them and their families, strengthen academic success, and prepare them for growing employment opportunities in our community; Lifelong Health, centered on the many health challenges residents face and the threats they pose to self-sufficiency as well as identifying ways to support both physical wellness and mental health throughout life; and Help Where and When it is Needed, which contains initiatives that target specific populations county government has been challenged to assist.

The most recent report on the status of new and ongoing Initiatives was provided to the Erie County Legislature and noted that 22% of the Initiatives have been completed. Included among them are the Poverty Committee and New Americans Advisory Committee along with a strengthened partnership between Erie County Child Protective Services (“CPS”) and public schools countywide to better protect children. In addition, partnerships have led to the expansion of mental health services in Buffalo Public Schools and residents now have increased access to public benefits in rural and outlying suburban parts of the county through a partnership with the University at Buffalo School of Social Work.

Poloncarz added, “As I have said many times, county government is an essential partner in building a better region and it can and should lead where appropriate. My administration continues to work with other governments and agencies helping those in need, and has stepped up to be the leader on a number of issues facing our community. Shared vision and commitment to creating a better community are the keys to the success of Erie County.”

A total of 11 Initiatives have been completed, with another 36 in progress across all four categories and representing 73% of the total. Eight of the in-progress Initiatives are approximately 75% complete with completion anticipated by June 2016; among these are the establishment of a Food Policy Council and strengthened connections between the Erie County Industrial Development Agency (“ECIDA”) and the Workforce Investment Board (“WIB”).

In addition to the Initiatives proposed in the plan, the Poloncarz administration announced several new initiatives at the 2016 State of the County address in March to further strengthen our community, including:

the expansion of Erie County’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Programs;

the establishment of an Opioid Epidemic Task Force; and the

introduction of a Local Law to Prohibit Tobacco and E-Cigarette Sales in Erie County Pharmacies.

“Government exists to serve residents and should always be there to confront crises, provide services, and work with partners to create a community that works for all,” Poloncarz concluded. “As these initiatives continue to bear fruit, Erie County will continue to become more resilient, self-sufficient, and inclusive.”