2022 Needs Assessment Report reveals Cleveland is ranked the worst large city for poverty

Cuyahoga County, OH – Out of the 89,937 children under the age of six who reside in Cuyahoga County, about 23,418 of them live below the poverty level, making them eligible for Early Head Start and Head Start.


That was just one of the eye-opening statistics published in this year’s Needs Assessment Report, prepared by The Center for Community Solutions. The group’s mission is to “improve health, social and economic conditions through nonpartisan research, policy analysis, communications and advocacy.” This year, The Center for Community Solutions partnered with Step Forward to survey low-income individuals and shed light on client and community needs.

“This report is really focused on people, their experiences and how they’re experiencing issues in the community,” Kate Warren, with The Center for Community Solutions, explained. “When the pandemic happened, we felt we were on the mine of rich data that nobody else really had.”


Researchers found nearly one in five Cuyahoga County residents live below the poverty threshold; one in three of those people live in the city of Cleveland. The data also indicated that Cleveland is ranked the worst among large cities for poverty and child poverty.


This data shows why Step Forward’s work is so important. Our agency is focused on helping low-income individuals and families address immediate needs and build long-term skills to transform their lives for generations to come.



Early Childhood Education


Step Forward offers Early Head Start and Head Start. Early Head Start serves pregnant mothers and children ages six weeks through three-years old. Early Head Start centers provide coaching, nutritional counseling, childbirth education, newborn and parenting classes as well as a nurturing and developmentally enriching environment for young children. The sites also provide necessary baby and toddler items like formula and diapers.


When the child turns three, they are eligible for Head Start. The program promotes kindergarten readiness through a love for learning. The children follow a curriculum and receive individualized assessments.

Step Forward operates ten facilities located throughout Cuyahoga County. We also offer “Home Base Head Start,’ in which a qualified home visitor goes to the family. The visitor meets with the parent and child for 90 minutes per week. It is a parent-driven curriculum so families can prepare their child for kindergarten without having to go anywhere. Home Base Head Start performs ongoing assessments to track the child’s development throughout the school year.


The agency is always accepting new students. To enroll, click here.


Personal Development

Step Forward offers income tax support, counseling, a Baby and Mommy Support Program, family development, parenting groups, anger management and domestic violence assistance. For more information, individuals can visit of our four Neighborhood Opportunity Centers, which are located in Middleburg Heights, Maple Heights, Glenville and near downtown Cleveland.

Professional Development


Step Forward is proud to offer job training and employment opportunities to adults. The agency provides customer service training, Microsoft Office software training and digital literacy certifications, a “How to think like a CEO” workshop and more.


In 2021, 100 percent of clients who secured employment with Professional Development

Services assistance maintained employment for 90 days. More than 90 percent of the clients who completed our five-day job readiness workshop were certified in financial literacy. Nearly 90 percent of the clients who completed Microsoft Office software training were referred to other Professional Development services training programs. About 88 percent of clients enrolled in our Adult Basic Literacy Skills Workshop showed improved literacy skills.


All of the services offered are free to eligible Cuyahoga County residents.


Those interested in making an intake appointment can call 216-651-5188.


Read more from the 2022 Needs Assessment Report here:

Step Forward 2022 Needs Assessment Report 2.18.2022
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