AKRON, Ohio — During the last county council meeting before summer recess, Summit County officials voted in favor of several bills that would directly improve the livelihood of residents.
In a two-hour virtual meeting, members of the council passed resolutions that will provide laptops and wireless internet hotspots to low-income families, give eligible parents access to a diaper bank and plan to assist individuals who may be experiencing what's known as the “benefits cliff."
"We are looking to reduce the digital divide," said Phil Montgomery, the deputy director of finance and budget for Summit County.
In order to do that, the county's Department of Job and Family Services will be purchasing 500 laptops and hotspots for TANF eligible residents. Progressive Alliance Community Development Corporation will coordinate laptop and hotspot distribution and technical support.
"We're trying to get to those parts of the community where access to broadband or WiFi is not there and have people have the ability for education, employment and communication type connections," Montgomery said during the virtual meeting.
The diaper bank, in collaboration with the county's health department and Full Term First Birthday, will be a countywide bank for TANF eligible families. Using $75,000 of TANF funds, the organizations will work to distribute diapers, wipes and pull-ups for families in need. They will also help give out diapers, child safety items, parenting essentials and related information to pregnant mothers.
To assist families who may be getting back to work, the county is working with DJFS and the Akron Urban League to provide employment preparedness and what's called benefits cliffs support.
"When they get a good-paying job or get a raise or start working more hours, there's a threshold or a cliff, that once you hit that you fall off and you're no longer eligible for SNAP benefits or Medicaid," Montgomery said.
Those enrolled in the program will receive support to transition to employment through case management. This includes job readiness training, career assessment, job training/certification, financial literacy/budgeting and barrier removal support services.
"Essentially hold the hand of folks who find themselves in this situation."