Weekly Update: March 22, 2021
Association News

Newland chosen as executive director in Allen County
A hiring committee for the Allen County Children Services (ACCS) Board of Directors named Sarah Newland the new executive director. Newland has served as the interim executive director since June 2020. Prior to that, she was an assistant Allen County prosecutor handling children services for nine years. We congratulate her and look forward to continuing our work with her. 

Metro counties discuss vaccines
PCSAO’s metro counties held their bi-weekly check-in call March 18. They discussed if and when they would return to a traditional work environment and how vaccine status of employees is handled in their county. The group will meet next on April 1 (really, no fooling).

Southwest District meets
PCSAO's Southwest District met March 17. Topics included the Ohio Child Welfare Training Program Regional Training Center staffing and classes, including virtual reality headsets. Liz Holzworth, Hannah Knies and Tara Shook of ODJFS joined the meeting to present about the new Kinship Support Program, the Center of Excellence, the Prevention Services pilot and Qualified Residential Treatment Program readiness. Finally, counties shared updates from their agencies. The next meeting is May 19.

Legislative Committee meets
The PCSAO Legislative Committee met on March 15. PCSAO provided budget, policy and legislative updates. The committee reviewed children services-related bills pending in the Ohio General Assembly and recommended positions on several of them. Those recommendations will be considered by the PCSAO trustees at their April 7 meeting. The committee meets next on April 19.  
Ohio START offers training
Children and Family Futures and Ohio START provided a one-day virtual “Foundations 3” training on March 17 to Cohort 4 counties and any staff from other cohorts who may have missed prior sessions. The training focused on treatment provider strategies within START that support behavioral health treatment and child welfare outcomes. It also included opportunities for local START teams to discuss strategies for implementing partnerships between child welfare and treatment providers. 
State and Federal Updates
Gov. Mike DeWine made the following announcements this week:
  • Expanded vaccine eligibility in Ohio. Beginning on March 19, those 40 and older and those with cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, and obesity will be eligible. Between these two eligible groups, 1.6 million more Ohioans will have access to the vaccine. 
  • Beginning March 29, eligibility will be expanded to all Ohioans ages 16 and older. FDA emergency use authorization only allows those ages 16 and 17 to receive the Pfizer vaccine.
  • The Ohio Department of Health updated quarantine guidance for student athletes and participants in extracurricular activities who may have been incidentally exposed to COVID-19 in a classroom setting. For spring sports and extracurricular activities, students will not be required to quarantine because they have an incidental exposure to COVID-19 in a classroom under the school-based exposure guidance unless symptoms develop. Details can be found here

ODJFS releases race equity study
ODJFS released its report “How Racism in the Ohio Child Services System Impacts the Lives of Individuals Involved.” Read the press release here. Read the report here.

Biden signs American Rescue Act
On March 11, President Biden signed the American Rescue Act, which provides $1.9 million in federal relief to individuals and counties. Read a summary of the provisions here. See county-by-county estimates of recovery funds here. See an analysis of eligible uses here.
Rules Update
Pre-clearance: The following rule is open for comments until March 26:

Clearance: The following rule is under five-year review and is open for comments until March 22:

The following rule is open for comments until March 31:
  • Rule 5101:9-7-08 - Title IV-E Foster Care Maintenance (FCM) Agreements between the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) and County Juvenile Courts.

Filed with JCARR: The following rules were original-filed on March 18 with a hearing date of April 21:
Resources and Clips

Ohio Children's Alliance Transforming Care Conference
Save the date! The Ohio Children's Alliance is holding its annual conference, Transforming Care for Kids, in partnership with the Ohio Network of Children's Advocacy Centers July 26-29. Focus areas will include advocacy and public policy, best practices in child welfare, best practices in behavioral health, diversity and inclusion, and strategy innovation and leadership. The call for proposals is open. Find more information here.

Statewide Trauma-Informed Care Summit registration opens
The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) will host the Eighth Annual Trauma-Informed Care Summit virtually May 18-19. This year’s theme is “Creating Environments of Resiliency and Hope: Trauma-Informed Care Inside a Pandemic.” Cost is $39. Click here to register.

Groundwork Ohio launches five-day budget advocacy effort
Beginning today, Groundwork Ohio is launching a five-day budget advocacy challenge to advocate for funding for children and families, including evidence-based home visiting, quality childcare and early childhood education. Sign up here.
Child Protection in the News
The Fostering Achievement Network, established in August 2020, provides members with a support system and resources to obtain financial assistance, housing and scholarships at Ohio State and in the Columbus area.

March 18 - State Senate passes COVID-19 funding bills - The Vindicator
The Ohio House on Wednesday approved a bill sponsored by Rep. Mike Loychik, R-Bazetta and state Rep. Cindy Abrams, R-Harrison, that requires public children services agencies to report child abuse or neglect in military families to the appropriate military authorities. "When it comes to child welfare of our military families, we must put the right steps within our law to provide full collaboration and coordination among these agencies for the betterment of our children," said Loychik, vice chairman of the House Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Committee.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) is working to better identify instances of racial bias. After a recent report showed that Black youth make up 14 percent of Ohio's population, yet 36 percent of the Ohio foster care population. Youth of mixed-race households comprise 4 percent of Ohio's population, and yet 8 percent of the Ohio foster care population. Due to COVID-19, racial disparities within the foster care system have been exacerbated. The ODJFS report is showing the same, due to a lack of input from voices of Black and brown youth within the system.

March 17 - U.S. Department of Labor awards $3.6M to Ohio JFS - Highland County Press
The U.S. Department of Labor Wednesday announced incremental funding of $3,666,666 to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to continue providing services to communities statewide significantly affected by the health and economic impacts of widespread opioid use, addiction and overdose. Funding will provide eligible participants employment in positions addressing the impacts of the opioid crisis, such as peer recovery coaches and social service aids assisting children placed in foster care resultant of parental substance abuse.

For Michael and Jennifer Barnhart foster care just seems natural. The Millersburg couple has been foster parents for 22 years.

March 13 - Juvenile court busy in 2020 - Times Leader
Juvenile court has remained busy in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic and staff are looking to the future as normal operations resume. Belmont County Juvenile and Probate Court Judge Al Davies recently provided a report to the Belmont County Board of Commissioners and made it available online. He said the need for his court's services remain. He said the family dependency treatment court will continue, focusing on parents whose children have been adjudicated, abused, neglected or dependent because of the parents' drug addiction. He will maintain a specialized docket allowing parents to get drug treatment and participate in juvenile drug court with reunification as a goal.

March 12 - Declare an emergency on epidemic of childhood trauma - Cincinnati Enquirer
Did you know that childhood trauma could translate into low productivity, high turnover, sinking morale and rising health care costs? Ohio Representative Tom Brinkman has been a pivotal ally in declaring a state of emergency on childhood trauma. We need other elected officials to push for the same call to action. Despite our hearings and push to move forward with policy changes, the lack of response is disheartening. Childhood trauma impacts the lives of many, directly and indirectly.

Second chances are staples of Ohio’s drug courts and a northeastern Ohio court showed its willingness to support participants no matter how many attempts it takes. Lorain County Family Drug Court, the first specialized docket in Ohio to host a virtual graduation during the pandemic a year ago, recently held a similar celebration for its newest graduate.
Stories of Hope and Courage
Rebecca: It's hard for people to see a family with a lot of dysfunction, but you have to keep looking. It does not mean there is no one in that family that can help.

Rebecca is a 30 Days to Family specialist with Hancock County Children's Protective Services. She has always worked with families and children, starting her career as executive director of a childcare center, then becoming a parent educator delivering home-based services through Hancock County's OSU extension office, and now in children services.

“It was crucial to see how families live and what their problems were…I had to look at the family's strengths. I had to drop a lot of my thoughts about how people should live, about things like bedtime routine, study spot for homework.”
Rebecca realized, for example, that for families who were going to be evicted, basic needs were front of mind. 
“As professionals, we have a job to do, we have a checklist,” she explained. “But we have to stop and look at what they have going on.” 

PCSAO is collecting stories from the front lines of child protection to raise awareness of the challenges our children services professionals, and the families they serve, are facing during this time.
Calendar and Job Postings
April 1 | Rules Review Committee Meeting
April 2 | Conference Planning Committee Meeting
April 7 | Board of Trustees Meeting

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

Looking for a career in child protection? Or a new position to challenge yourself?