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History

In September 1996, several community individuals attended a Welfare to Work conference sponsored by the Department of Public Welfare designed to explain the upcoming Welfare Reform Legislation, effective on March 3, 1997. At the conclusion of the conference a small group of Monroe County residents decided to organize a task force that would address the major barriers of those individuals who would be transitioning from welfare to work.

A community health assessment steering committee, initiated by Pocono Medical Center in December 1993, had just completed a health needs assessment report of the county that identified nine key areas of need. It was decided that the newly created Welfare Reform Task Force would come under the umbrella of the Medical Center steering committee. The first meeting was held in November 1996 with approximately 25 community groups represented. Four sub-committees were formed to address the barriers to employment: childcare, transportation, housing and employment. Also, a resource committee was formed to oversee the personnel and financial needs of the task force. Community and business people, social service agencies, educators, and health and government leaders joined forces on the Welfare Reform Task Force to develop strategies that would support the diverse and critical needs that would have to be addressed as welfare to work was implemented. Committees met on a regular basis for the next year and a half, analyzing solutions to the needs that were identified. When numerous barriers appeared, it was decided that a consultant would be hired to provide technical assistance, prioritize solutions, prepare a comprehensive plan, and identify funding sources.

In 1998, the County Commissioners agreed to fund this project utilizing Red Road Enterprises as the consultants. The consultants initiated a survey and produced the “Red Road Report”. The report identified the strengths and needs of the committees, made suggestions for the committees, and recommended the hiring of a project director to coordinate activities. In March 1999, a project director was hired to act as a liaison between committees, to provide direction, coordinate activities, and write grants to support needed projects. In 2001, the name of the Task Force was changed to Pocono Healthy Communities Alliance to more accurately reflect the work and focus of the group. In 2002, PHCA received its 501 (c) 3 status. PHCA changed its name to Pocono Alliance in 2009.

Through its membership of over 300 individuals, Pocono Alliance works with the private sector, agencies, educational systems, government, service providers, and service recipients in program development and the delivery of services. Pocono Alliance collaborates in identifying unmet needs of the community as they relate to supporting low to moderate-income working families with children. Additionally, Pocono Alliance pursues funding sources for new programs as it collaborates with established agencies and organizations to accomplish identified goals, with the intention of avoiding duplication of services. As of July 2006, almost $4.75 million dollars have come in to Monroe County. These funds were either obtained in collaboration with other agencies that provide the direct service or they were for projects that Pocono Alliance implemented.