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Hello Friends,

The fall season has begun and once again children are off to school and cooler weather is on the way! I bet most of you are wondering, like me, where did the summer go? 

We have accomplished a lot this past summer. We celebrated "Wear Purple Day" for Elder Abuse Awareness month in June, we attended many health fairs, we participated in the Destination Downtown Lancaster Artwalk and the Lancaster and Pickerington 4th of July Parades, and we celebrated "Wear Green Day" for Child Support Awareness month in August. There's so much more we have been doing but these are just the highlights.

Looking forward, our Annual Job Fair hosted by Fairfield County Ohio Means Jobs is September 29 at 9 a.m. at Ohio University-Lancaster. This event is open to the public, so be sure to share our posts on Facebook and Twitter and help us spread the word as much as you can! 


Deputy Director Teams Up with Ohio Attorney General
On Aug. 24,  Kristi Burre, Fairfield County Job and Family Services Deputy Director of  Protective Services, joined the Ohio Attorney General in a call to action in regard to the opioid epidemic. At the press conference, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine discussed the strain the Ohio opioid epidemic has put on the state's child protective system. Because of this, he is encouraging Ohioans to become foster parents.

Realistic Employment And Living Independently Training for Youth

All good things must come to an end. In the case of the Reality program, the ending is bittersweet. The Reality program originally began in November 2006 with grant funding secured via a TANF Demonstration Project offered by ODJFS.  Counties were requested to provide creative ideas to utilize surplus TANF funding that would fill service gaps or needs for children and families. ODJFS approved the project and Reality House was formed. 

Basic tenets of the program focused on providing youth in Child Protective Services custody the skills they would need to successfully navigate the world on their own. Youth residing in the program were offered the opportunity for "real life experience" with independent living skills they may not have had the chance to acquire residing in foster care. Cooking, performing household chores, doing laundry, budgeting money, purchasing food and obtaining employment were just a few of the skills staff assisted youth in obtaining. Each youth received an Independent Living skills assessment, to help determine areas of need and which activities to focus on. Youth also experienced an increased sense of normalcy compared to other youth their age, eliminating some of the barriers created by foster care placement. 

The p rogram recei ved a myriad of ongoing support from local entities including the United Way,  Fairfield Affordable Housing, The Fairfield Foundation, The Columbus Foundation and countless individuals who donated time and money to help the program's success. 

As child welfare programming shifted nationwide from a focus on youth successfully emancipating from foster care to youth having permanency options such as adoption or legal custody to a relative, Protective Services leaders recognized the need to discontinue Reality programming. The importance of youth having permanency options and finding forever supportive adults is just as critical as preparing youth to become young adults. The hope became that positive supportive adults in each child's life would support youth's efforts to obtain needed skills as opposed to needing staff and a program to provide them. As a result, the Reality House was officially closed in June 2017, and the agency has found other ways to still ensure youth have necessary skills and guidance. Child Protective Services staff are forever grateful for their partnership with Fairfield Affordable Housing and community partners that made the program such a huge success.  During it's tenure, the program assisted hundreds of Fairfield County youth to receive knowledge, build skills and develop supportive relationships that last a lifetime.

Although the program ends, the youth touched by the program will always have the real life experience and knowledge gained to help shape them into positive young adults.
Ohio START Program 

Children traumatized as a result of their parents' drug abuse are often the invisible victims of the opioid epidemic. This epidemic has had a critical impact on our local Protective Services  and our ability to service and manage co-occurring substance abuse and maltreatment concerns with Fairfield County families.

(Sobriety, Treatment, and Reducing Trauma) is a new pilot program that will serve families harmed by parental opioid abuse. The program will provide specialized victim services, such as intensive trauma counseling, to children who have suffere d victimization  due to parental drug use. The program will also provide drug treatment for parents of children referred to the  program.

A key element of the START program will be certified peer recovery supporters who will be paired with a child protection caseworker to provide intensive case management services. In other jurisdictions, children served through this evidence-based model were more likely to safely remain in the home and less likely to experience recurrent abuse or neglect within the following six months o r to re-enter the foster care system after 12 months.

Protective Service is grateful for the support of the Ohio Attorney General's Office for their leadership and support with this grant project. Fairfield County is one of 18 southeastern counties chosen to pilot Ohio START, with an opportunity to be awarded a total of $127,500 from the Attorney General through the end of next year to go toward the planning and implementation of the project. The Ohio State University College of Social Work and the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University will study the effectiveness of Ohio START, in the hopes the program will expand to other Ohio counties. 
We thank our local partners in advance for their collaboration. The coordination of services and interventions between Child Protective Services, the  courts, peer recovery coaches, and behavioral health/treatment providers is an essential component of this project. 

JFS Wears Green for Child Support Awareness Month
August was Child Support Awareness Month, a month dedicated to spreading awareness of the importance of the child support program and all those impacted by Child Support. 

Did you know that  Child support is the second largest source of income for  single parent families, making up 39% of their total income? One in three children are impacted by the Child Support program.
Comprehensive Case Management & Employment Program  Success Story

The Comprehensive Case Management and Employment program provides training and supportive services to eligible low-income individuals who are ages 16-24 to prepare for and find employment. The following is the story of one mother who participated in CCMEP-achieved her GED and Phlebotomy Certification, gained housing, established childcare and gained employment in less than six months!

"Mary" is a 24 year-old single mother of three who was referred to CCMEP by her Success Coa ch Molly Thomas in Octobe r 2016. She had been working with Molly through a domestic  violence situation that she had recently left and was on medical leave until December 2016. With the assistance of her CCMEP case manager, Tina  Hall, Mary obtained her driver's license and set up childcare utilizing agency childcare. Mary and her caseworker discussed her enrollment in the Ohio Adult Diploma Program through Pickaway Ross Career Center's Phlebotomy and EKG program. 

Mary started the program attending classes at the Circleville campus. She received a Metropolitan Housing voucher and also received a car from a family member. Mary was able to stop utilizing agency transportation and started driving her children to daycare and herself to school. In March, Mary had been placed on academic probation due to missing too many classes, but she worked out a schedule to make up hours and get back on track by the end of March.

Mary found a three bedroom house that she loves and was able to move into her own place with the help of supportive services through CCMEP. In April, Mary passed the Phlebotomy Certification and has passed the EKG training part of the program. Since then, she has completed both certifications of the course and will be receiving her high school diploma.  Mary walked in her cap and gown on June 28 with the 2017 class at Pickaway Ross Career Center.

Mary was given a referral and appointment with Career Closet for job interviews she had scheduled. Mary started her new position with a local nursing home working 30 hours per week. She also completed an interview with a nearby hospital and is excited about the possibility of working contingent with their lab as well.  

4th of July Parade

FCJFS employees participated in the Lancaster 4th of July Parade in downtown Lancaster to spread awareness of abuse and neglect against children and elderly.
4th of July Parade

Yet again JFS employees showed their dedication to our values and mission to help those in need by participating in the Pickerington 4th of July Parade. 

JFS staff and family members advocated to protect children and elderly at the Sweet Corn Festival Parade in Millersport on August 30th. 
Workforce Development Youth Program Su ccess
Melissa first came to JFS at 16 years old in 2015 (name and picture have been changed for confidentiality). She was struggling in school, had no idea what she wanted to do after high school, and dealing with anxiety issues. Melissa enrolled in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) Youth Program and began working with the youth case manager and Opportunity Works (Youth Partner). She was quiet and uncomfortable participating in group activities. While slightly progressing, her anxiety was still controlling her decisions and in the first year she left the program twice. After returning for the second time, Melissa opened her mind to college and activities beyond her comfort zone. She developed a plan for her future, along with her  case manager and Opportunity Works.
Melissa graduated high school and is currently in her second semester at Columbus State Community College in the culinary arts program. She also recently obtained full-time employment at a local restaurant.

Melissa is a completely different person than when she first enrolled in the youth program, and has a very bright future ahead.
Children Need
Our Help 

 Funding for Child & Adult Protective Services

Childhood Trauma

More children with significant health challenges and mental illness are coming into custody, requiring intensive and costly treatment. This trauma has a lifelong impact, making it difficult to find foster/adoptive families.

of children in custody are under 5 years old.

Elderly Need
Our Help

85%   of the perpetrators of  elder  abuse, neglect, and exploitation  are family members, with adult children and grandchildren the most common.

Over the last 3 years,
investigations of reports of
elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation have increased 

Nearly 65% of all elder abuse involves  substance abuse  and mental illness .

Only 1 in 14
c ases of elder abuse is reported.
September 2017
Kinship Awareness Month  
At times when children need a home and cannot be with their own parents, it is often kinship families who step forward.  As the ongoing, significant need for youths to reside outside of their parents' care continues, more and more individuals and families are willing to be the ones who open their doors and welcome those children. Across Fairfield County, and the nation, kinship providers continue to step up and care for children in need, with more than 50 youths whose families are working with Protective Services living in a kinship home.

We often think of grandparents and other extended family members when talking about kinship homes, but it can also be friends, neighbors, and many other individuals who are important in a child's life. For some of these families, it's providing the needed 
care on a short-term basis. Others, though, continue to raise these children in their homes until adulthood.
In recognition of the hard work and care offered by all 
kinship providers, September is recognized as Grandparent/Kinship Month across the country. Fairfield County Protective Services continues taking steps to enhance practice to identify and involve kinship families across all cases, and greatly appreciates the care they provide and support they offer.

We thank you, kinship families, for all you do!

Citizens to Protect Children and Elderly Hosts 
Blue Ribbon Run/Walk