Chenango County Community Services Weighs New Contract With FOR-DO
Published: August 5th, 2022
By: Shawn Magrath

NORWICH – Citing the struggle to make the best of its peer support and vocational rehab programming, Chenango County Behavioral Services is pondering a contract with Friends of Recovery of Delaware and Otsego counties (FOR-DO) that agency heads say could greatly help recovering individuals find work.

Liz Warneck, director of Chenango County Community Services, pitched the idea to the county’s Health and Human Services Committee last month. Her agency’s current vocational rehabilitation services coordinator is leaving the position, giving the agency a chance to take the program in a new direction.

“I’m sure that many of you would agree with me that vocational services and gainful employment is essential to people’s recovery, as is being able to connect with somebody who has their own experience with substance abuse disorder,” Warneck told committee members. “I think [FOR-DO] would be a real benefit for us and the people who are looking for our services.”

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A contract with FOR-DO would essentially replace Community Services’ current vocational services rehab coordinator. The position would be eliminated from Community Services’ budget while the money used to fund it would instead go to FOR-DO.

In turn, FOR-DO would use its programming and community of employers to find work for individuals recovering from substance or drug abuse. FOR-DO has a network of roughly 150 employers who are “ready and willing to hire individuals who are in recovery,” Warneck said.

Working with FOR-DO may be the best way the county could utilize Community Services’ funding, she added. What’s more, It would spare the county the burden of refilling the newly vacant vocational rehab coordinator position – a role she said would be difficult to fill, given New York State’s requirements for the job. It would also bring Community Services more in line with state requirements for peer support services.

The county receives more than $60,600 in state aid for vocational and peer support services, with a $12,700 match required from county taxpayers, to pay its vocational rehabilitation services coordinator $45,000 annual salary and fringe benefits. Community Services’ proposal is to conversely use both amounts in a contract with FOR-DO, resulting in little change to the agency’s overall budget. State aid would be funneled through the county and paid directly to FOR-DO.

“So for the county taxpayers, there’s really no change at all,” said Health and Community Services committee member Jim McNeil (Norwich). “This would just mean one less person in the building.”

The contract proposal was unanimously moved on by the Health and Human Services Committee. A resolution for final approval for Community Services to pursue a contract with FOR-DO will go before the full county board next week.