(Harrisburg) -- Schuylkill County and nine other counties have been accepted into the state's expanded Human Services Block Grant pilot program.
The initiative consolidates seven human services funding streams into one block grant that gives counties the flexibility to direct the dollars where they're needed most. The voluntary program debuted with 20 counties last year -- including Berks, Dauphin, Franklin and Lancaster counties. The Legislature has since authorized ten additional counties, but there are still more interested counties than there are slots in the program.
Berks County Commissioner Christian Leinbach, who serves as president of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, says the program should be open to any county that wants to participate.
"It fundamentally goes to the issue that local government, county government in this case, knows their region and their needs much better than some bureaucrat here in Harrisburg," he says.
The block grants include funding for child welfare services, homeless assistance, mental health and other programs. Critics say the program forces already under-funded human services programs to compete for scarce state dollars.
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