Funding requests to increase health workforce, domestic violence services, business aid advance in Meriden
MERIDEN – Three separate proposals to increase the staff of the city’s health and human services department, provide housing and support services for victims of domestic violence, and create a marketing program for small businesses affected by the pandemic received preliminary approval from the US bailout steering committee this week.
The committee, which met remotely via video conference Monday evening, voted to advance the three proposals to city council. All three votes were unanimous.
The board will review funding requests at its January 18 meeting.
If authorized by the board, they would be funded by the $36.3 million US federal Bailout Act allocation.
Health & Human Services requested funding of over $1.275 million. The proposal would add a full-time public health nurse to school health offices to provide day-to-day care, as well as a nurse administrator to oversee the city’s entire school health program and a health clinic supervisor. public health to oversee the operations of the department’s clinic.
Per the department’s request, the nurse administrator position has been vacant since 2018. The clinic supervisor position would be newly created – responsible for overseeing the administration of vaccinations, communicable disease investigations, enrollment in school health and other responsibilities.
“Currently, the Associate Director of Health (who is a registered nurse) oversees both school health and clinic supervisory responsibilities,” the officials wrote in the application. “There is a need…for the RN administrator and supervisor positions so that the associate director position can assist the director with the administrative responsibilities of the department.”
The app said, and Director of Health and Human Services Lea Crown reiterated during a presentation Monday night, department staff have been working seven days a week since February 2020 to treat conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 19.
“Filling the public health nurse administrator and creating a new public health clinic supervisor position, in addition to an additional nurse in our schools, will allow for greater internal capacity for the COVID-19 response and the creation /implementation/evaluation of direct essential public health services,” the app said. “It will also free up time for existing staff so that we can continue to address current and emerging health concerns and issues. public health and social services in our community.”
Crown, during his presentation to the steering committee, described his department’s current workload as “unsustainable” with his current staff.
“The staff are incredibly burnt out,” Crown said, later adding that she considered the positions “necessary.”
Mayor Kevin Scarpati, a member of the committee, said he supports the proposal.
“It’s clear and obvious that there is a need,” Scarpati said.
Councilman Bruce Fontanella asked Crown whether the three proposed positions would impact his time commitments and responsibilities.
Crown responded that filling the supervisor position alone would create “a domino effect.”
“It will take a lot of the workload off of the deputy director of health, who can then take on some of my responsibilities,” Crown said, noting that there are “a lot of things that cannot be do for now while everyone [of us] wear several hats.
Meriden-Wallingford Chrysalis Inc., a local nonprofit that provides housing assistance and other services to victims of domestic violence, is seeking funding of $618,000 over three years.
“Due to the COVID pandemic, our service utilization is three times higher than average requests, and Chrysalis is facing budget constraints due to a lack of funds for all programs, especially our transitional housing program. “, reads the request of the agency.
Chrysalis was one of the few domestic violence centers “that never closed or moved only to remote services during Covid,” the agency said, while explaining that some operational procedures had been changed to ensure safety.
“The need for more housing support and services in our community is clear. Domestic violence and sexual assault affects 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men. Trauma can have a deep and lasting impact. Recovery without support systems, internal and external, is virtually impossible,” the plaintiffs wrote.
The agency has been told that the federal funding it has long received to provide direct assistance to clients has been halted for at least a year.
“This request is urgently needed as it will help serve existing staff and help us continue to support community members at the same level of direct customer financial assistance,” the request states. The funds would allow the agency to continue its transitional housing programs and other programs to help clients achieve financial independence, as requested.
Several steering committee members, before voting to move the application forward, made statements acknowledging the need for services like those provided by Meriden-Wallingford Chrysalis.
Councilwoman and committee chair Yvette Cortez noted that crisis services, such as those provided by the agency, across the country are being used at an “extremely high rate.” She described these services as “incredibly important”.
Councilor Michael Rohde also said incidents of domestic violence “have skyrocketed”.
“These are the most vulnerable people in our community,” Rohde said, adding that they include single mothers trapped in situations with their abusers.
“I have a lot of empathy for these poor people who really need help and support to get out of a dangerous situation and get on with their lives,” Rohde said, describing Chrysalis herself as “an ally” for These persons.
The third request advanced by the steering committee is a joint request for $300,000 called “Meriden Business Boost” submitted through a partnership that includes city economic development officials, the Midstate Chamber of Commerce and the RJ Media Group, owner of the Record-Journal.
The application outlines a partnership intended to help local businesses recover from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. The applicants promised that the ARPA funding would be matched with RJ Media Group’s own $300,000 contribution.
The funds would allow small businesses to receive what the applicants described as “high-impact multimedia marketing grants,” which include print, digital, video and social media marketing. In one presentation, the applicants described the grants as free marketing.
Applicants outlined a plan to provide tailored media marketing grants worth $4,000 to at least 150 Meriden businesses to be used over a two- to four-month period.
As part of the application, companies that recently joined the MidState Chamber of Commerce would receive a $50 discount on their membership fees. Existing members would receive a $50 credit to use for advertising.
The applicants cited the success of a previous $100,000 grant the RJ Media Group received in the summer of 2020 from Facebook. The company used these funds to provide free marketing campaigns, worth $120,000, to 40 local nonprofit agencies.
Liz White Notarangelo, executive vice president of RJ Media Group and publisher of Record-Journal, explained that these campaigns would be tailored to each company’s goals.
White Notarangelo said his company works with hundreds of local businesses, which “we know are still being impacted every day” by the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. She described a goal to help “as many businesses as possible recover and thrive”.
Meriden’s director of economic development, Joseph Feest, described the proposal as a way to boost the local economy.
Scarpati, while describing the local focus of the proposal as “exactly what the ARP money is for”, questioned why the candidates chose a cap – 25 full-time equivalent employees – on the maximum number of employees for companies who would use the marketing grants.
Feest said the reason was to ensure the grants go to “little mom and pop stores instead of your bigger national chains.”
After much discussion, the committee voted to recommend the app with an amendment proposed by Scarpati – 50 of the 150 grants would be for businesses with 25 or fewer full-time employees.