Business, Health, Police/Fire, Politics

Baltimore County STEP, ICARE programs recognized with national awards

TOWSON, MD—Baltimore County has been honored with two awards from the National Association of Counties 2021 National Achievement Awards in recognition of innovative programs that modernize government and improve services for County residents, including for the County’s data-driven eviction prevention program.

“We’ve built the best team in the State of Maryland, and I’m proud of the work they do every day to serve our residents and make Baltimore County a more vibrant place to live,” said County Executive Johnny Olszewski. “We’re honored to receive these awards, which recognize the exceptional efforts we put into our work on behalf of our residents.”

Since 1970, NACo’s annual Achievement Awards have recognized county government innovations, and are given in 18 different categories that reflect the comprehensive services counties provide, including financial management, county administration, information technology, health and civic engagement.

Baltimore County earned the following honors in the 2021 NACo Achievement Awards:

STEP Program

Recognizing an ever increasing need to deliver rental assistance quickly and efficiently to families in need during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Baltimore County launched an innovative eviction prevention program in partnership with the United Way of Central Maryland (UWCM). The Strategic Targeted Eviction Prevention (STEP) pilot utilized geographic COVID-19 case and economic vulnerability data to focus assistance on vulnerable households, including those containing seniors and minor children. STEP provides direct payments to landlords on behalf of tenants to help County residents stay in their homes. The pilot exceeded expectations, allocating $4.2 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds to avert eviction for 935 households over a 10-week period.

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ICARE Program

Recognizing that calls to EMS are often related to lack of quality of care and/or social services needs, the Baltimore County Fire Department created an Office of Integrated Health and initiated the ICARE (Integrated, Community, Assessment, Referral and Evaluation) Program to integrate existing programs and to create new resources to assist vulnerable populations. The program brings together various Baltimore County agencies and other community partners to explore interagency collaboration, resource sharing, knowledge, and linkage to programs and activities. More than 200 referrals were made in the first year, linking people to resources. Initial data indicates a reduction of EMS calls from high utilizers and an increase in collaboration and care coordination with other agencies. ICARE has proven to be a successful mechanism for first responders to identify at-risk and vulnerable individuals and refer them to existing resources.

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