A quick rundown of Ohio child protection news this week
Weekly Update for April 27, 2020
Association Updates

Governor continues coronavirus efforts
Gov. Mike DeWine and his administration continued efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus and to prepare the state for it.
  • The Governor announced that students will not return to school buildings this year; they will continue with remote learning. While it is too soon to make definitive statements about the fall, the start of the next school year may involve blended learning and staggered schedules. It will vary in each school district.
  • The governor announced that the state will continue to cover the costs for youth in foster care who are turning 18 during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as youth in the Bridges program.
  • Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton asked hospitals to evaluate resuming surgeries postponed due to COVID-19.
  • Ohio has its first positive case of COVID-19 among the juvenile corrections population. This individual started showing symptoms on Monday evening and was immediately isolated. Contact-tracing with the Ohio Department of Health and the Cuyahoga County Health Department has already begun.
  • The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services announced a new resource for people who are struggling with stress and need emotional support. Individuals can call the COVID CareLine toll-free at 1-800-720-9616 to speak confidentially with a trained professional. After 8 p.m., the calls will be forwarded to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
  • Lt. Governor Jon Husted has indicated the approximately $2.7 billion in Ohio's Budget Stabilization Fund will not be enough to balance the state budget over the next 15 months; it will likely require twice that amount. Governor DeWine ordered his departments to identify cuts of 20% to their budgets, but no date has been set for when these cuts need to be submitted. More information will be coming soon.
  • Gov. DeWine created strike forces for minority health and COVID-19 testing. The testing strike force will be led by former Governors Richard Celeste and Bob Taft and will work with leaders from business, academia, and public health to source critical testing items. Gov. DeWine also announced that the FDA has approved the use of a new reagent for testing developed by Thermo Fisher which will help with the state’s testing capabilities.  
For more information on all of the state's orders, visit the  executive orders page .

PCSAO, along with the Ohio Job and Family Services Directors’ Association (OJFSDA), the Ohio Child Support Enforcement Agencies Directors’ Association (OCDA) and the County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO), continues to follow the situation closely and interact with state officials to ensure that county agencies are well represented and receive clear information. The best place to find information is  coronavirus.ohio.gov  . The Ohio Department of Health hotline, 1-833-4ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634), is open 9 a.m.-8 p.m. daily. The governor holds press conferences daily at 2 p.m. on  www.ohiochannel.org 

PCSAO releases 2019 annual report
A year of historic state budget investments, exciting system transformation and evidence-based program expansion are recounted in PCSAO's 2019 annual report. While the report celebrates tremendous successes for children services, it comes amid the uncertainty of a pandemic that is testing health and human services, devastating the economy and making troubled families even more vulnerable. Nevertheless, the current crisis comes on the heels of a truly remarkable year that witnessed historic investments and transformational changes in children services by the state. Read the report here .

HR guidance abounds
As county agencies address a range of human resources challenges, they have many useful resources from which to draw. Last week featured the weekly JFS Human Resources Association call and a webinar on unemployment benefits and shared work co-hosted by the Ohio Job and Family Services Directors’ Association and the County Commissioners Association of Ohio. Thanks to all three associations for supporting the field with timely information.

Workgroup identifies caregiver supports
PCSAO’s work on a new tiered treatment foster care system for Ohio continues. A workgroup met for the third time April 22 to further develop supports, training, recruitment and retention for resource families, with presentations from Trumbull County Children Services on caregiver mentoring and from Integrated Services for Behavioral Health on risk management. The group will be wrapping up its recommendations soon.

Governor authorizes waiver to allow temporary emergency residential facilities
In response to COVID-19, Gov. DeWine signed an executive order (2020-16D) giving ODJFS the authority to accept requests to establish temporary emergency residential facilities. ODJFS has emergency-filed Rule 5101:2-5-18, which will allow public children services agencies (PCSAs) to work with residential agencies to request waivers of the requirements in Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) 5101:2-5 and 5101:2-9 in order to establish temporary emergency residential facilities where capacity needs arise. PCSAO appreciates leadership from ODJFS and the Governor’s Office on this action. The rule was emergency-filed and became effective on April 21 and will expire on Aug. 20. 
More updates on rules
Pre-Clearance: The following rules from Chapter 5101:2-5 (Child Services Agency Licensing) are in pre-clearance until April 30:
The following rules from Chapter 5101:2-9 (Children’s Residential Centers, Group Homes, and Residential Parenting Facilities) are in pre-clearance until April 28:
Clearance: Comments due by April 30:
  • Rule 5101:9-6-12.4 - Child, Family and Protective Services Allocation. This rule is under five-year review; no changes are proposed. 
The following rules from Chapter 5101:2-38 (Case Planning and Reviews) were original-filed on April 21 and have a hearing date of May 28. As a reminder, due to COVID-19 precautions, this hearing will be held by teleconference. If you would like to submit oral testimony, please call in at the above date and time to 614-721-2972. Then enter the meeting ID, which is 980 711 007#. Written testimony may also be submitted electronically to rules@jfs.ohio.gov .
The following rules were revise-filed on April 23. A summary of the changes can be found here .
The following rules were original-filed on April 23 and have a hearing date of May 28. See notes above for how to participate in this teleconference hearing. A summary of the proposed changes can be found here .
  • Rule 5101:2-33-28 - Joint planning and sharing of information among the PCSA and CDJFS.
  • Rule 5101:2-38-20 - PCSA requirements for providing ongoing services in alternative response.
Announcements and Resources

NCWWI holds webinar on converting classroom training from in-person to online
The National Child Welfare Work Institute is offering a webinar on "Supporting the Virtual Workforce: Converting Classroom Training from In-person to Online" on April 28 or May 1. Much of child welfare professional development, especially foundational training for new workers, takes place in-person. Because of the current situation, training needs to be available online. This webinar will provide information on converting in-person experiences to virtual learning platforms, as almost anything that can be taught in the classroom can also go online (really!). Learn tips, tricks, and ways to overcome barriers. Register here .

Zero to Three offers webinar on preventing abuse and neglect during COVID-19
Zero to Three is offering a webinar focused on “Child Welfare Professionals Attending to Risks” in preventing abuse and neglect during COVID-19 on May 6 at 1 p.m. The webinar is part of a series. Learn more and register here.

Darkness to Light offers free webinar on protecting children during a crisis
Darkness to Light is offering a free 30-minute training on "Protecting Children During a Crisis." The free online training is designed to help people navigate through the unusual circumstances during times of crisis. This applies to any situation that requires a person to modify the steps to protect children because of a situation that is out of their control. The training may be taken at any time. Find it here .

NASW Ohio offers ethics of technology webinar
National Association of Social Workers Ohio is offering a recording of its recent webinar "Ethics of Technology." Use of social media and new technologies has exploded in the new millennium. More people than ever before are using the Internet to connect to one another, which poses benefits and challenges to those who work in the health and human services profession. In this presentation you will learn about the ethical implications of social media and new technologies on practice. Participants will learn the website-specific risks, benefits, and strategies to avoid ethical violations. Watch it here .

Ohio Department of Education creates guidance for checking in with families
The Ohio Department of Education has created resources for school communities to use to check in with families to see how they are doing. There is an awareness that while child abuse and neglect reports are down, that does not mean that actual abuse is down; this is a very stressful time for families. You can find information on the ODE website . A printable copy of questions for parents and students is here .

The Ohio Youth Advisory Board is sharing two videos to encourage community members to become foster parents for teens and/or host homes for young adults. Marissa Alcorn and her chosen family share how foster care brought them together . Emancipated foster youth Jewell Harris shares her inspiring story and encourages people to care for teens . Find more information on the Ohio Youth Advisory Board here .

New distance learning website from OCWTP
The Ohio Child Welfare Training Program has created a user-friendly distance-learning website with a variety of opportunities for caseworkers, supervisors, assessors, foster parents, adoptive parents and trainers. The sessions have been well received, and many trainings can be taken for credit.
Child Protection in the News

With or without COVID-19, Children Services workers in Ohio still have to ensure the safety of children. And they're currently balancing protecting children and their own health.

April 22 - Child Welfare in Ohio: Where's the Village? - Public News Service
With many Ohio families isolated together during the COVID-19 pandemic, children's advocates are worried about kids' health and safety. Many county children's services agencies are noting a substantial drop in reports of abuse and neglect since the "Stay-at-Home" order went into effect.

Across the U.S., COVID-19 has applied fresh pressure to an already overburdened child welfare system. The pandemic has closed courts, sidelined caseworkers and slowed the process for reunifying families. Most visits with parents now take place online. Worry about infection has had a chilling effect on recruiting foster parents to meet the need.

April 21 - Children in foster care are especially at risk - Columbus Dispatch
Home has taken on new meaning the past few weeks. We stay home to protect the broader community. We’re working from home. Having birthdays at home. And for many, a stable place to call home might be something we take for granted.

April 19 - Ohio Children’s Trust Fund - Sunny 95
During Child Abuse Prevention Month, Lindsay Williams, executive director of the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund, discusses the concerns of children’s advocates that, with the closure of schools and day cares and the cancellation of activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, cases of child abuse or neglect may go undetected.

April 19 - Child abuse reports down in numbers but up in severity - The Daily Jeffersonian
Those driving through town might have noticed a large sign in front of the Cambridge Municipal Court on Wheeling Avenue. The sign is surrounded by purple and silver pinwheels and notifies passersby that April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. You may have seen blue pinwheels lining yards symbolizing that every kid has a right to a childhood, but where awareness is being spread, the expected calls are just not there.

COVID-19 has brought challenges to many services that support the public, but child service agencies are dealing with particular issues.
Children Services in the Valley are reporting a drop in referrals of possible child abuse and neglect. But, this doesn't mean abuse is on the decline. In fact, it could be just the opposite.

Abuse reports are down in Ohio, but it doesn't mean the abuse is not happening.

There were 1,631 reports of child abuse in Trumbull County just last year. Through the month of April, each report is being represented by a pinwheel on the front lawn of Warren City Hall.
Upcoming Events

May 6 | Board of Trustees Meeting
May 7 | Rules Review Committee Meeting
May 8| Community Education Committee Meeting
May 8 | Conference Planning Committee Meeting

Note: Most if not all meetings will be held via web meeting or teleconference.

Employment Opportunities

Looking for a career in child protection? Or a new position to challenge yourself? Check out the latest job openings in child protection .
Public Children Services Association of Ohio | 614-224-5802 | www.pcsao.org