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August 23, 2012 | By | Posted in General News

County human services block grant program attracts too much interest

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

HARRSIBURG – A block grant program that promises to give counties more flexibility with welfare dollars has attracted more interest than expected.

Thirty Pennsylvania counties signed up for a new human services block grant program pushed by Gov. Tom Corbett, but only 20 will get to participate.

The state Department of Public Welfare announced Thursday that 30 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties had applied for the 20 spots in the new Human Services Block Grant program. The department will select the 20 winners in early September.

The block grant for human services funding was one of the major new initiatives in Gov. Tom Corbett’s second budget. Corbett initially proposed moving all county-level welfare funding into a new block grant approach, but pushback from welfare providers over a 10 percent funding cut forced lawmakers to make it pilot program this year.

Gary Alexander, DPW Secretary, said the response showed counties preferred the more efficient form of funding offered by the block-grant system.

“Block grants allow counties to maximize each dollar for recipients, reducing the amount of time and money spent on bureaucratic red tape,” Alexander said in a statement.

Rather than having individual line items for certain welfare programs, the block grant approach would allow counties to divvy up state dollars to match individual needs.

The counties that applied to join the new program were from all parts of the state, with no obvious geographic or regional flavor. Urban, suburban and rural counties were all included on the list.

For a list of counties that applied for the new program, click here.

Contact Eric at Eric@PAIndependent.com and follow @PAIndepenent on Twitter.

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Eric Boehm is a reporter for PA Independent. He can be reached at Eric@PAIndependent.com or at (717) 350-0963.

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