Sept. 1, 2018, workshop transfer set

By Peter H. Milliken


The Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities has voted to cease its provision of adult workshop services at its Meshel Workshop on Marwood Circle and to begin discussions to transfer provision of those services to MASCO Inc., with a projected effective date of Sept. 1, 2018.

The Meshel facility would be the first Mahoning County DD facility to be transferred to another organization under a federal mandate.

A transition committee recommended trying “to do it a building at a time, so that it was not overwhelming for MASCO to try to take on all services at once,” Bill Whitacre, board superintendent, told the board.

The board resolution, enacted Monday, approved entering into contract negotiations with the nonprofit MASCO (Mahoning Adult Services Co.) to provide the services in the Meshel building.

MASCO would continue to serve workshop clients without interruption, Whitacre said.

The resolution says the action is being taken because of mandates from the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Ohio Department of Disabilities.

The county would continue to own the Meshel building and lease it to MASCO, Whitacre said.

Regulations from the federal agency say the board will generally be barred from providing both case management and direct services to adult clients by 2024 because regulators view the dual role as a conflict of interest.

“They’ve drawn the line in the sand. Many of us are very disappointed” because “we believe that we still would be an excellent provider” of direct services, said Charles Holden, a board member and former board superintendent.

However, he added: “We have a lot of confidence in MASCO to become a great provider.”

After the transition to other service providers is complete in 2024, the board will continue to fund the services regardless of who provides them or where they are provided; and the board will continue to perform the service coordination and monitoring function, known as case management.

DD board labor union contracts will remain in effect for their duration during this transitional period, Whitacre said.

He noted, however, that the collective-bargaining agreement with the board’s workshop specialists will expire Aug. 31, 2018.

MASCO plans to interview all DD staff members who are interested in working for MASCO, Whitacre said.

The DD board’s Leonard Kirtz School is not affected by the federal mandate, Whitacre added.

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