Executive Officer from Clearfield County League on Social Services Stresses Importance of Accurate Census Count

Pictured, in front from left, are Commissioners Tony Scotto; John A. Sobel, chairman; and Mark B. McCracken. In the back is Mary Jones, executive officer for the Clearfield County League on Social Services. (Photo by GANT News Editor Jessica Shirey)

CLEARFIELD – The U.S. Decennial Census is about more than population totals and breakdowns, as it also helps Clearfield County get its fair share of federal funding.

During Tuesday’s commissioners’ meeting, Mary Jones, executive officer of the county’s League on Social Services, spoke about the importance of the upcoming census for the league and the citizens it serves.

The league is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization that was incorporated in April of 1974. Since its inception, it’s been providing community-based services for families and young children.

Additionally, the league is a Pennsylvania Early Learning Resource Center for Region 2 serving Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, McKean, Potter and Warren counties.

ELRCs are a point-of-contact for families, early learning service providers and communities to gain information and access services that support high-quality child care and early learning programs.

According to Jones, the league is responsible for monitoring and overseeing the care and education of children, primarily from the time of birth through the third grade.

Also, under the umbrella of the league, is its food program that ensures children receive healthy snacks and lunches at daycare centers and family homes.

“We make sure children get a good start,” Jones said. “Our goal is to make children’s transition from daycare to kindergarten successful.”

She said because the league is a non-profit organization, it “survives” on grant funding from the federal and state governments and proceeds from its fundraisers.

In fiscal year 2015, she said Pennsylvania’s funds from census-derived statistics totaled $26,793,367,770 from 16 large federal assistance programs, or $2,093 per capita.

“Almost all of which affect the citizens of Clearfield County,” Jones said, noting that in past censuses, Clearfield has been an underreported county by at least 20 percent.

“It’s not just the league that loses out on grant funding, but any funded organization in Clearfield County. It is unfortunate people don’t understand how the census works, how the data is used.”

In 2020, Jones said the census will be easier to complete than ever before. She said citizens can now complete the questionnaire online or by phone; or they can use the traditional mail form.

She reminded that census data is kept confidential, and is not released to outside agencies, which includes law enforcement. “By law, it can’t be used for anything other than for data.”

Over the years, Jones said the structure of families has evolved, and oftentimes parents aren’t entirely sure how to count their children.

She said children should be counted where they spend the majority of their time, and if custody is shared 50/50, the parents must decide who will count the child(ren).

In addition, even if a child is born April 1, 2020 and is still at the hospital, she said that the child must still be counted as part of the census.

She said the commissioners have been asked to form a Complete Count Committee to encourage participation in the upcoming census.

However, Jones said individuals can also help others who will greatly benefit from the census-derived funding by spreading the word that this data collection will help meet their needs.

Commissioner John A. Sobel said since the initial announcement of the formation of a Complete Count Committee, only one person has come forward.

Sobel said anyone who is interested in serving on the committee should contact the commissioners’ office, located at 212 E. Locust St., or by phone at 814-765-2642.

In other business, the commissioners:

  • approved a resolution in recognition of the importance of having an accurate 2020 census in Clearfield County.
  • approved a fiscal consulting service agreement with Service Access and Management Inc. for Children, Youth and Family Services. SAM will assist CYFS with completion of 2018-19 financial reports and with preparation of a needs-based budget for the upcoming year.
  • approved school-based probation agreements with the DuBois and Clearfield Area School Districts.
  • approved a liquid fuel allocation to Coalport Borough in the amount of $3,000.
  • approved minutes from the previous meeting that was held on Sept. 24.
  • approved the bills as presented by the Controller’s office.
  • approved two new hires, one employee transfer, one employee separation/retirement and two employee leaves.
  • approved the transfer of Alex George, caseworker/CYFS to deputy warden-second shift/jail, effective Oct. 14.

Following its last agenda item, the commissioners suspended the balance of their meeting to reconvene salary board in order to address the salary matter of the second-shift deputy warden.

Commissioner Mark B. McCracken motioned for a salary of $34,000 for George’s 30 working days of training, which will be done during the standard first shift.

Previously, he said the salary board set the second-shift deputy warden’s salary at $35,000. However, his motion included an increase to $35,500, so long as George worked second shift.

McCracken said because it took some time to fill this position, the board should “incentivize” it.

The board then approved for George’s salary to be temporarily set at $34,000 for his period of training and then to increase to $35,500 when he moves to second shift after 30 work days, with the salary to be reimbursed per a previous agreement with the court.

Following the salary board meeting, the commissioners reconvened their regular meeting, at which point Assistant Solicitor Kim Kesner requested an executive session for legal matters.

He said the purpose of the executive session was to confer with the commissioners with regards to two commercial assessment appeals.

Kesner said he didn’t anticipate any official action on the part of the commissioners following the executive session. The open meeting adjourned at 10:34 a.m.

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