March 2018
 
Aaliyah and Laniyah are looking for a forever family that will keep them together.

Aaliyah likes to sing, dance and draw. She also loves to do her hair and makeup.

She does well academically.

Laniyah likes reading and is proud of herself for working hard at math. She doesn't care much for sports.

She helps around the house by cleaning her room and the dining room. She likes to play outside and go to fun places like Sky Zone.

She doesn't play video games, but likes card games and board games.

She says everything makes her laugh.



Let's continue
 to #FosterLove 
 
Thanks to everyone who helped us focus February on #FosterLove.

We dedicated the month to highlighting the many ways you can support kids in foster care. 
Yes, we desperately need more foster parents. But we understand that not everyone is ready for that.

There are so many other ways - become a mentor, donate to the FAMILY Fund or become a respite provider.



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Great news: food, cash recertification easier 

Our agency takes another step forward in customer service this month.

Food and cash assistance recipients in Hamilton County can now sign their recertification papers with an audio signature, speeding the process of completing the application.

I know it comes as no surprise in this day and age when any business converts paperwork processes to the phone or online. We have been doing it for years in our various programs and will continue to do so at every opportunity we encounter.

I am familiar with other JFS operations throughout the state, and government agencies in general, and I feel as if our agency has been a leader in this area. In fact, when the state attempts to pilot new programs or technology, it often looks at Hamilton County to lead the way.

It is part of our vision to be innovative. Since 2009, we have won 16 National Association of Counties Achievement Awards for Innovation. That is more than any other government agency in Ohio.

In this instance, we are switching to a state telephone system to recertify Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program cases and/or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cases. Ohio's Enterprise telephone number, 1-844-640-6446, features an audio signature. This is a process where people can authorize, or "sign," their paperwork by answering personal questions that only they would know.




Flood help for elderly, low-income, disabled 

A limited amount of financial assistance is available to low-income, elderly and disabled flood victims through Hamilton County Job and Family Services.

Gov. John Kasich has declared a state of emergency in Hamilton County, along with Adams, Athens, Belmont, Brown, Clermont, Columbiana, Gallia, Hocking, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Monroe, Meigs, Muskingum, Scioto and Washington counties.
The state has made a limited amount of money available for qualifying disaster-related expenses to individuals in the following categories:
  • Hamilton County families who meet the eligibility requirements for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
  • childless individuals age 55 or older
  • disabled individuals who have been adversely affected by the emergency. A "disabled" individual must be childless and in receipt of some type of disability benefit payment.
The money is available until March 14. To apply, please contact Jamie Mansu at MANSUJ@jfs.hamilton-co.org or 946-7254.



Celebrating 141 adoptions in 2017 - 
an agency record 

Hamilton County caseworkers helped 141 children find forever families in 2017, celebrating the most adoptions in agency history.
 
The previous high was 135 in 2007. (Agency records only go back to 1991).
 
"I am proud of the work our staff did last year, especially their work in finding more kinship homes," said Moira Weir, agency director. "This is one the most important duties we perform as an organization - finding permanent, loving homes for children. I am extremely grateful to staff for working extremely hard on behalf of those who need us most."
Some of our adoptions and foster care staff members.
 
Recruiters who are specially trained to find homes for harder-to-place children, delivered their best year, too, 17 adoptions of teens, sibling groups and kids with special needs! Another milestone to be celebrated. 

Chris Landon, a Children's Services supervisor who oversees many of the agency's adoptions, said private agencies have played a part in helping JFS, noting that they are increasingly licensing families for both foster care and adoption at the same time, ensuring they are ready to quickly adopt if the opportunity arises.
 
But much of the praise goes to the JFS staff who focus on adoption: Landon, Maggie Owens, Alex Grote, Sonya Lary, Danielle Varisco, Travina Adams, Emily Thompson, Michael Willis, Kamala Renick, Jona Lansman, Tammy Harrison, Michele Ryan, Dianne Shannon-Woods, Courtney Osborne, Amber Sawyer, Stacey Barton, Shawnia Robertson, Staci Crocker, Maggi Erhart, Phoebe Hart, Lasonya Hunter, Mary Stricker, David Steffen and Carson Taylor.
 
Margie Weaver, assistant director of Children's Services, said 141 is certainly a number worth celebrating, but the more important measure is how each life improved. 
 
"This is a life-changing event for children who really need someone to permanently commit to them," she said. "I really want people to realize how significant this is for a child. We all know the success stories that can come out of an adoption. Our staff should celebrate the fact 141 children now know they have someone they can count on for the rest of their lives."




Do you know a teen in foster care who's graduating this year?

If you know a teen in foster care who is graduating from high school this year or getting their GED, please let  us know.

As you might know, HCJFS puts on a big event for these kids called Celebration of Dreams, in June. We include a video of each teen. We will start filming those soon.

Please help us make sure all the kids who worked so hard to make it through school are able to come and be honored.


Thank you for all the sweats and hoodies

Once again, folks have come through for this annual donation drive led by Cincinnati public relations guru Julie Phillippi Whitney and Sibcy Cline.

We have more than 1,200 pairs of new sweat pants and hoodies to give to our kids in foster care. They were collected in January and February in a campaign called Sweet Sweats for Love.
Thank you to the community for continuing to support whatever annual drive these two powerhouses think up!