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County joins block grant pilot program

| Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Westmoreland County was one of 10 counties added on Thursday by Gov. Tom Corbett to a pilot program that awards human services funding through block grants.

The county will receive $15.7 million in discretionary funding to pay for community-based mental health services, programs for behavioral health and intellectual disability clients, child welfare, drug and alcohol treatment, homeless assistance and human service development projects.

Those programs in the past were given specific funding amounts by the state.

“We'll go into it slowly and thoughtfully, and hopefully we can save money on administrative costs. The whole idea is to get the money to people who need it and not eat it up with administrative costs,” Commissioner Charles Anderson said.

Westmoreland County was rejected for the block grant program last year. As a result, the county hired Dirk Matson to head a newly unified Human Services Department that consolidated nine social service programs under one umbrella.

Matson was hired with the directive to secure the block-grant funding for the county.

He said on Thursday the county has budgeted block-grant money to mirror last year's allocations.

“We decided not to make changes in how the money is allocated this year. Next year, we might see more discretionary use,” Matson said.

Allegheny, Beaver, Butler and Greene counties were awarded block-grant funding last year as part of the initial pilot project. Westmoreland and Washington counties were added this year as the Corbett administration expanded the program to include 30 counties.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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