Request for family planning approved by county committee

MAYVILLE — Chautauqua County health officials want to fully transfer family planning services to providers like The Chautauqua Center. However, state Health Department requirements for family planning funding are causing the county Health Department to reapply in order to keep a comprehensive set of services going.

Christine Schuyler, county public health director, came before the Human Services Committee this week to discuss the Health Department’s plan to apply for family planning grant funding from the state. Schuyler told board members that providers applying must have a minimum three years of Title 10 family planning experience. The state Health Department has released its next five-year request for Title 10 family planning funding.

“We are the only entity (in the county) that has that experience,” Schuyler said.

Committee members approved submitting an application requesting family planning funds. Schuyler said the county is eligible for an annual award of $500,000 beginning January 2018 through December 2022.

Before approval was given, Chairman Mark Tarbrake, R-Jamestown, asked Schuyler what options are available to the county to continue family planning services. With the state Health Department’s requirement, Schuyler said the county can apply for funding or elect to not submit an application and let another provider, such as Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York, come in and provide services.

Schuyler said she thinks it’s in the best interest of residents to have the county continue the services.

“The county Board of Health recommended we submit an application for funding,” she said. “We can move forward and apply for funding, run clinics and meet requirements still in conjunction with The Chautauqua Center.”

With possible changes to the Affordable Care Act, Schuyler said she doesn’t know the future of Title 10 family planning funding. She said there’s no guarantee that funding will be there as it could change in the next federal budget.

“If we need to apply, we need to do it now,” she said.

In other matters, committee members accepted $60,000 in state funding to address and combat human trafficking in Chautauqua County. Schuyler told board members human trafficking needs more attention as it’s occurring locally. Schuyler said 13- and 14-year-old girls are being targeted.

“Human trafficking is something that’s very real and happening more,” Schuyler said. “It’s something as simple as kids today wanting cellphones and nice clothes. Children in poverty find ways to get those. Unfortunately, people out there will fulfill kids’ needs in exchange for sex.”

Schuyler said children do not see they’re actually victims and noted that it’s important to steer them in the right direction.