Amounts intended for childcare services for adults | News

Nearly $50,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds have been set aside as local stakeholders develop a plan to resuscitate adult child care in Transylvania County. Commissioners approved the funding allocation at Monday evening’s Council of Commissioners meeting.

Also at Monday’s meeting, County Executive Jaime Laughter advised funding commissioners that the Council on Aging is now able to allocate out-of-county adult transportation and child care services as it there is no more adult daycare in Transylvania County.

Ahead of the commissioners’ decision last Monday, the new group Friends of Transylvania Adult Daycare held its inaugural meeting last week to discuss the future of adult daycare services in the county following the abrupt closure of MountainCare in January. County Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Griffin also attended the meeting.

At the meeting, former director of Transylvania’s adult daycare program, Ranessa Thomas, said MountainCare applied for ARPA funds from the county last year to help support the program, which was struggling financially. (The Transylvania Adult Daycare was operated by MountainCare, a regional non-profit organization based in Buncombe County)

Griffin said that if awarded, ARPA funds would have to be used for services rendered and could not be used for capital expenditures such as rent or construction costs for a new building. Then, at Monday night’s Council of Commissioners meeting, commissioners voted to approve the allocation of $49,850 for future adult child care services in the county. With MountainCare shut down, however, the money remains in limbo until a service provider is once again established in the county.

Kathe Harris and Al Vissers, members of the Transylvania County Council on Aging, convened last week’s meeting of Friends of Transylvania Adult Child Care, and the two shared what they knew about the circumstances surrounding the abrupt closure of MountainCare in the county of Transylvania.

“For me, the real question was, was MountainCare really committed to supporting Transylvania Adult Daycare?” Vissers said. “Was its closure due to a lack of financial support from the community, which was veiled in the newspaper?… If that’s what you were told, that’s why MountainCare closed, because that there was no financial support from the community, that is not true. Complete stop.”

Vissers served on MountainCare’s development board after learning the program was in jeopardy in January 2021, and said he tried to find several ways to raise funds and strategize for the program’s financial sustainability. in vain. Vissers also said he felt MountainCare prioritized programs in Henderson County and Buncombe County over Transylvania, and was not as receptive to his and others’ efforts to keep the Transylvania adult daycare opened as he would have hoped.

MountainCare executive director Elizabeth Williams said the organization had done all it could to keep Transylvania’s adult daycare center open, but MountainCare’s funding shortfall was too big to overcome.

“We left the Mission Health system with an estimated $1 million shortfall that was paid for by a foundation,” Williams said. “It turned out, when we were alone, that shortfall was $1.8 million, and we didn’t have funding for $800,000, and we also didn’t have longevity for this million.”

Williams said tough choices had to be made for the organization to continue, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated already severe financial shortfalls.

When HCA Healthcare purchased the Mission Health system, programs that had previously been supported by nonprofit foundations, such as adult daycare programs, which were part of Mission’s Care Partners services, were no longer viable as part of the system. a for-profit business model. After the HCA acquisition, many of these services transitioned to new nonprofits like MountainCare or the Pisgah Health Foundation so they could continue to operate under a nonprofit model.

MountainCare was founded just before COVID-19 hit, and for the past two years, Williams and Thomas said the pandemic has taken a toll on the organization. Not only has Transylvania’s adult daycare been cut, Williams said MountainCare has also had to cut music therapy and bereavement support services due to lack of funding amid the pandemic.

When the Transylvania County Adult Daycare lease ended at their Transylvania Regional Hospital facility, Williams said they ran out of time and money to keep the program going.

At the Friends of Adult Daycare meeting, attendees were still in shock that the decision had to be made without warning.

Thomas said that despite serving fewer people than Henderson and Buncombe counties, Transylvania Adult Daycare had higher utilization and more efficient service delivery than the other two counties and it was a shame that nothing more has been done to help the program stay open.

“MountainCare has long scoffed at the fact that participants in Transylvania have the greatest financial need and least ability to pay for the service of the three counties, but despite this, the Transylvania program serves customers in need and consistently outperforms the other centers,” Thomas said. “So we had a good thing, but I assure you it can be even better.”

One option Transylvania Adult Daycare supporters tried to explore before the program shut down was to run the program autonomously from MountainCare, but Vissers said MountainCare said no. Williams said MountainCare simply ran out of time before the end of the lease and a plan to transition the program to local ownership with no disruption to services.

“They didn’t want us to make decisions for them, that’s understandable, because the decision we have to make right now is to shut down this program,” Williams said. “We supported their desire to bring the program back to Transylvania County. We have worked very hard to achieve this. It’s a complicated transition and it’s the lease that ran out of time.

Williams said MountainCare has been working to support Friends of Transylvania Adult Daycare and still serves about 12 of the 17 former participants of Transylvania Adult Daycare.

Going forward, some meeting participants suggested that the ideal plan for the future would be to find a way, independent of MountainCare, to lease the currently empty adult daycare building on the campus of the Regional Hospital of Transylvania as the group raises money to build a bigger, better facility that could house more than just adult daycare. Several participants expressed their support for the construction of an active aging center in the county, where several services for the elderly could be housed under one roof, as well as the possibility of housing child care services, as both could benefit from the intergenerational community model.

Both Harris and Thomas said they were encouraged by the participation of community members interested in adult child care, and Pisgah Health Foundation President Lex Green attended, along with members of his organization to help support the group’s efforts.

At the end of the meeting, Green presented Harris, Thomas, and Vissers with the Relentless for Western North Carolina award for their support of adult daycare in Transylvania County, and Green said the Pisgah Health Foundation will continue to support Friends. of Transylvania Adult Daycare. go forward.

Friends of Transylvania Adult Daycare plans to meet again this month. To attend the next meeting or find out more, contact Kathe Harris at [email protected] or 862-6970 or Al Vissers at 577-1945.

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