Ann Arbor OKs Social Infrastructure Support

In action taken at its Nov. 7, 2013 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council authorized five grant-related items involving the specialty court functions of the 15th District Court.

  • Accept three-year $300,000 supplemental grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to enhance countywide efforts to prevent domestic violence, effective Sept. 12, 2013 through Sept. 30, 2016. Of the grant total, $181,000 will reimburse the city for the salaries for a full-time domestic violence probation officer, a half-time system coordinator, and a part-time data entry clerk. Another $5,000 will reimburse the city for training expenses required by the U.S. Dept. of Justice. The remaining $114,000 will reimburse the city for a contract with SafeHouse Center to provide domestic violence prevention services.
  • Authorize contract with SafeHouse to provide domestic violence prevention services ($114,000). Under terms of the contract, SafeHouse Center will provide confidential support, information and referrals for victims of domestic violence cases in the 15th District Court, 14A District Court and 14B District Court; monitor court and probation activity as it relates to victim safety; work collaboratively to enhance victim safety; and offer advice and training to judges, magistrates, probation and compliance officers and community partners.
  • Accept Michigan Supreme Court drug court grant ($144,000). The 15th District Court’s sobriety court is “hyper-intensive probation,” which follows sentencing. The court assigns a full-time probation officer to the sobriety court for a program that lasts 18-24 months and includes monitoring of participants’ attendance at treatment programs, their progress in treatment, how they’re spending their time at work and doing community service. Reporting requirements are extensive. Participants must take frequent portable breath tests (PBTs) and urine tests. The majority of sobriety court participants are second-offender DWI cases, but offenses need not be driving-related. Also eligible to participate in sobriety court are, for example, retail fraud (shoplifting) offenders and misdemeanor drug possession offenders. Some of that grant money will fund a contract with Dawn Farm.
  • Authorize contract with Dawn Farm ($88,000). The contract is for out-patient drug abuse counseling as part of the 15th District Court’s sobriety court.
  • Accept Michigan Supreme Court veterans treatment court program grant ($92,279).

[For background on the 15th District Court and some of its functions, see Chronicle coverage: "Round 1 FY 2014: 15th District Court"]

Also at its Nov. 7 meeting, the authorized the basic approach that it has taken to human services funding in the past, but with some modifications. The funds would continue to be managed through Washtenaw County’s office of community & economic development, using the coordinated funding approach.

The city of Ann Arbor is one of five partners in the coordinated funding approach. Other partners are Washtenaw County, United Way of Washtenaw County, Washtenaw Urban County, and the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation. It began as a pilot program in 2010; this is the second time that the program has been extended.

The coordinated funding process has three parts: planning/coordination, program operations, and capacity-building. The approach targets six priority areas, and identifies lead agencies for each area: (1) housing and homelessness – Washtenaw Housing Alliance; (2) aging – Blueprint for Aging; (3) school-aged youth – Washtenaw Alliance for Children and Youth; (4) children birth to six – Success by Six; (5) health – Washtenaw Health Plan; and (6) hunger relief – Food Gatherers.

Last year, TCC Group – a consulting firm based in Philadelphia – was hired to evaluate the process. As a result of that review, several changes were recommended. One of those changes is that funding would not necessarily be allocated to the six priority areas based on the proportion of funding allocated in the past. Instead, allocations among the six priority areas would be based on identified community-level outcomes, the strategies that align with them, and how each are prioritized. An additional change would broaden the pre-screening process so that smaller nonprofits could be accommodated.

Recommendations for specific funding allocations will be made in spring 2014. In addition, the RNR Foundation – a family foundation that funded TCC Group’s evaluation of the coordinated funding approach – will now be an additional funder in this process. One of the goals of coordinated funding is to attract more partners, such as private foundations.

The Washtenaw County board of commissioners gave final approval to the continued use of the coordinated funding approach at its Nov. 6, 2013 meeting.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow.