×

Children Services is on the right track

In December 2018, the Board of Commissioners voted to disband the Children Services Board and begin the process of moving Children Services under the Department of Job and Family Services. We knew this move would not happen without some pushback but we believed strongly the agency could not continue to provide quality services for those most in need if they were operating at a deficit.

You’ve read in the Marietta Times that the State of Ohio has now provided evidence of this merger’s success. No longer is Children Services carrying a sizable debt and no longer are they running a deficit. Additionally, the merger allowed the department to do this while trimming its proposed 2019 budget from $1.6 million to just $1.187 million. Finally, this quite remarkable move has been accomplished with no layoffs and no loss of service to the public.

Now it’s time to announce phase two of this smarter government reform. For too long we have failed to adequately support those families who selflessly give of their time, energy and love to foster children who have been removed by the courts from their homes. As such, working together with the department of Job and Family Services, we have created the Foster Family Investment Program. This innovative, first-in-the-state program will provide a 25% base increase in the 2019 daily rate foster families are paid. This increase will bring Washington County to parity with Athens and Noble counties and place us ahead of Morgan, Perry, Belmont and Monroe counties.

Secondly, for Washington County foster families who take in a child under the age of 3 or over the age of 13, there will be a 50% increase in the 2019 daily rate. Finally, families who foster children with non-typical negative behaviors, ongoing counseling/medical appointments, physical health problems or serious developmental delays, will receive a 75% daily rate increase over 2019 as long as they meet certain objectives established by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Folks, this is a game-changer. This represents the updating of a system that has seen no increase in the daily rate of reimbursement since 2002. Getting our financial house in order earlier this year has allowed Washington County to stop lagging behind other counties and become a trendsetter in how we care for the most vulnerable among us. Finally, it allows us to say to those foster families who have given so generously in the past that help is finally on the way.

Ron Feathers

Washington County Commissioner