Weekly Update: January 11, 2021
Association News
Board of Trustees holds first meeting of 2021
The PCSAO Board of Trustees met on Jan. 6 and welcomed three new directors: Cassandra Holtzmann, Crawford County JFS; Fred Lord, Williams County JFS; and Sue Ware, Union County JFS. The board approved Dec. 4 meeting minutes, the November 2020 financial report, a financial procedure amendment, and a workforce research brief proposal. The board agreed to hold the March 4 Executive Membership Meeting virtually. PCSAO staff provided updates on COVID-19, the new Kinship Support Program, Family First, OhioRISE, lame duck legislation, Ohio START, the OCWTP new training manager, and the conclusion of the anti-human trafficking grants. The board meets next virtually on Feb. 3.

PCSAO participates in cross-reporting bill signing
PCSAO Director of Public Policy Mary Wachtel spoke in favor of HB 33 at Gov. Mike DeWine 's bill signing on Jan. 6. for HB 33, sponsored by State Rep. Laura Lanese. The new law requires cross-reporting of abuse between social services professionals and animal control officers. PCSAO supported the bill because of the demonstrated link between animal and human abuse.

Rules Committee talks about prevention, kinship rules
The PCSAO Rules Review Committee held its first meeting of 2021 on Jan. 7. ODJFS staff joined the call to discuss the draft prevention services plan and review documents that will be used by PCSAs. In addition, the committee reviewed and discussed the proposed Kinship Support Program. The committee next meets on Feb. 4.

Metro directors check in
The PCSA Metro Directors held a biweekly virtual check-in on Jan. 7. Topics of discussion included COVID-19 vaccinations, civil unrest safety planning, and the Kinship Support Program. The most recent ODJFS communication related to COVID-19 was provided along with updates from PCSAO staff. The metro directors will meet next on Jan. 21. 

CEC discusses charter, modernization and communication plans
The PCSAO Community Education Committee (CEC) met Jan. 8. Committee members reviewed and agreed to a committee charter, and reviewed and provided feedback on PCSAO's Strategic Modernization Plan and Communication Plan. They also developed a list of topics for the year and shared updates from their respective agencies. The CEC meets next Feb. 5.
Ohio START job openings
Ohio START is seeking a behavioral health technical consultant to assist Ohio START grantees and their local behavioral health partners in forming collaborative relationships to achieve and maintain Ohio START model implementation and sustainability. Read the job description or apply here. Ohio START is also seeking two Ohio START coaches to provide individual or small group coaching and training to Ohio START grantees to build START teams’ skill sets, increase model fidelity, and enhance collaboration among community partners in Ohio START counties and/or regions. Read the job description or apply here.

Ohio START extends application deadline for Cohort 4 until Jan. 15
The Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse approved START for inclusion as a promising practice. This means that Ohio continues to move forward with the plan to implement START as one of five Family First prevention programs for launch in October 2021. Ohio START will add 14 more counties to the program early this year. Find the application here.
Rules Update
Pre-Clearance: As of Jan. 8, there are no children services-related rules in Pre-Clearance.
Clearance: The following rule is open for comment until Jan. 14:
Rule 5101:2-42-18.2 - Kinship Support program.
Filed with JCARR: As of Jan. 8, no new children services-related rules have been filed with JCARR.
State and Federal Updates
Federal updates
At the end of December, Congress approved and the president signed a coronavirus relief package that included over $400 million in federal support for child protection. A full summary of the provisions can be found here. Highlights include:

  • Increases Chafee funds, which provide support for older youth who experienced foster care
  • Prevents children from aging out of foster care and being at risk of homelessness during the pandemic
  • Expands access to Family First prevention services
  • Provides emergency funding for the MaryLee Allen Promoting Safe and Stable Families program
  • Expands funding for the Court Improvement Program
  • Adds flexibility for home visiting programs to continue to serve families safely
  • Expands access to kinship navigator programs

State updates
  • Gov. DeWine announced those in Phase 1B will be able to receive vaccinations beginning Jan. 19, with people 80 and older prioritzed. Vaccines for Ohioans 80 years of age and older will be administered by physicians, local health departments, hospitals, federally qualified health centers, in-home health service providers, and some retail pharmacies. 
  • Gov. DeWine anticipates vaccinations will be available to Ohioans 75 years of age and older beginning Jan. 25. That week will also include vaccinations for Ohioans with severe congenital, developmental, or early onset medical disorders. Additional details about distribution for this group will be forthcoming.
  • The following week, Feb. 1, vaccinations will be available to those 65 years of age and older and to personnel in Ohio schools. The Ohio Department of Heath will send forms to Ohio superintendents to indicate their school plans to go back to full in-person and hybrid learning by March 1, as well as indicate the number of staff they believe will choose to take the vaccination. Superintendents will also be asked if a community partner has been identified to help with the administering of the COVID-19 vaccines to school personnel.
  • The Coronavirus Vaccine FAQ remains a good place to find information. 
Resources and Clips
PEER Online Symposium: Self-care and compassion fatigue
The PEER Center, with support from OhioMHAS, is offering symposia on “Compassion Fatigue and Self-Care: For Peer Recovery Supporters, Families, and Allies.” The goal is to provide understanding, tools, and resources needed to engage in culturally responsive, trauma-informed peer support relationships with anyone, especially those with lived experiences with trauma. Sessions will take place Jan. 13, Feb. 17, March 17, April 14, May 12, and June 16. Each session is from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and all sessions will be the same, so attendees should register only once. Click here for more information. Email jdoodley@thepeercenter.org with questions. 

Human Trafficking Awareness Month activities
January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. See this list of resources from the Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force:
  • The Summit County Collaborative Against Human Trafficking is hosting a series of online human trafficking education events throughout January as part of Human Trafficking Awareness Month. View the series here.
  • The Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition is hosting virtual Human Trafficking 101 trainings and "Meet Your Local Coalition Leaders & Human Trafficking Advocates" throughout January. Click here for details.
  • The Ohio Attorney General is hosting his annual Human Trafficking Summit to provide education and resources to combat human trafficking on Jan. 14.
  • She Has A Name is hosting a "Level 2" training on labor trafficking to build on its general anti-human trafficking training on Jan. 23 from 9 a.m. – noon. Learn more and register here.
  • The Wayne County Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition, OneEighty, and the Wayne County Advocacy Center are hosting a human trafficking training for direct service providers on Jan. 26, and interested community members on Jan. 27. 
  • End Slavery Cincinnati is hosting its annual Anti-Human Trafficking Conference on Jan. 29 from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. Register here
Child Protection in the News
Advocates for Ohio adults caring for related children in their custody insist a new law that raises payments for such caregivers doesn’t go far enough, signaling that achievement of a solution that satisfies all parties isn’t yet in hand.

After years of planning and executing, Akron Municipal Court has become the latest beacon of hope for survivors of human trafficking who end up in the judicial system.

MaShonn Sullivan, a caseworker and adoption assessor for Lorain County Children Services, was honored as an "Outstanding Caseworker" by AdoptUSKids, a national project that supports child welfare systems and connects children in foster care with families.

In Ohio, at least 16,000 children are in the foster care system. Getting through 2020 was a chore all by itself, especially when it came to kids learning virtually while in state custody. Yet, families managed to make it through. Trisha Welsch said flexibility and structure was their saving grace. "And this is true for a lot of the foster kids; they kind of need to know what's coming because so much of their life has been uncertainty and they don't know who to depend on and what's going on."

Traditionally, kinship caregivers have received much less in state support, financial and otherwise, than licensed foster parents. That's changing for the better in Ohio, with nearly $30 million in the current two-year budget to help kinship families. There's some funding for subsidized child care, monthly payments and a Kinship Navigator program to work personally with caregivers and direct them to find the resources they need. The budget also will boost recruitment of families for kinship care, as ODJFS has a goal of placing 70% of the youths in public care with "safe and appropriate adult relatives."

Jan. 2 - Overdose deaths remain high in Ohio, US. In 2020 – Wolloughby News Herald
Amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic, the overdose epidemic is continuing across the country.

Almost half of Ohio's 32 Appalachian counties are not represented by an anti-human-trafficking coalition, but one new organization is hoping to bridge that gap. Eyes Up Appalachia is a new anti-human-trafficking organization serving Appalachian Ohio with the goal of educating people about human trafficking and illuminating the issue in rural areas.

Dec. 31 - Governor DeWine Signs Executive Order - Office of the Governor
On December 29, 2020, Governor Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 310, which included language authorizing the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) to pay kinship caregivers. Across the state, more than 2,600 kinship caregivers are providing safe and loving homes to nearly 4,000 children in the custody of a children services agency, making kinship caregivers an important and essential part of our child welfare system.

Dec. 28 - Marsh Forced to rethink adoption services - Van Wert Independent
This year - 2020 - has not been an ordinary year. This meant that businesses and non-profit organizations alike have had to get creative in how they provide services and products. That is also true for The Marsh Foundation Foster Care and Adoption Center in Van Wert. "We have really had to rethink how we reach out to our agency's foster families and the kids in their care. Our goal has always been to provide a lot of support in the home, but with the pandemic, we weren't able to be in the homes," said Foster Care Director Melissa Snyder. "We have had to provide support through virtual services and use this as a way to continue to stay involved."

Melanie Montgomery spoke a secret password and entered the guarded room at Akron Children’s Hospital in February 2018. Inside, a nurse named Jeff was caring for a 15-week-old boy who weighed just less than 11 pounds. Jeff asked Melanie if anyone briefed her on the baby’s injuries. Not really, she said. A social worker told her the baby’s mother brought him to the hospital a few days before with an eye problem.

Ashley Durst, an Ohio START caseworker in Trumbull County, said a support system is crucial for sobriety during the holiday season, so clients are advised not to isolate themselves. But they could be exposed to drinking or drug use at family gatherings.

It was the day before Halloween and Robert Carter was nervous. His kids wore suits and dresses showcasing their family colors: red, black and white. Red, Carter said, because you don’t have to be blood to be family. He was there to adopt them. All five of them – three boys and two girls. 

The pandemic is compounding the regular stresses of the holiday season, and it's an especially challenging time for Ohioans living with substance use disorder. The Ohio START Program connects people who've experienced substance use disorder, recovery and the children services system with families who are currently struggling with similar issues. Last week, the program was approved for inclusion in a federally-funded clearinghouse that identifies and shares information about evidence-based practices in foster care.
Calendar and Job Postings
Jan. 15 | Conference Planning Committee Meeting
Jan. 15 | East Central District Meeting
Jan. 20 |Southwest District Meeting

Note: Meetings will be held via web meeting for the foreseeable future.

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