Weekly Update: May 10, 2021
Association News
Kenney joins PCSAO as director of strategic initiatives
Mike Kenney joins the staff of PCSAO this week in a new position as director of strategic initiatives. Kenney is the co-founder and former executive director of Kinnect, a Cleveland-based nonprofit that continues to lead innovative statewide initiatives that improve permanency outcomes for children in foster care. His leadership led to rapid expansion in Kinnect’s programming related to family finding, kinship navigator services and permanency for older and LGBTQ youth. He is also a sought-after trainer, coach and speaker. At PCSAO, Kenney will oversee the association’s role in the new Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Center of Excellence and implement strategic modernization initiatives related to practice and safety culture. Read more.

Coshocton commissioner talks children services
Coshocton County Commissioner Dane Shryock stopped by PCSAO last week along with Coshocton County JFS Director Danny Brenneman to express his support for adding $50 million to the State Child Protection Allocation. PCSAO is proud to join with the County Commissioners Association of Ohio in its budget advocacy. Commissioner Shryock, who started his career in law enforcement, recognized that, unlike other county agencies, children services costs are not fixed, but can explode unexpectedly due to placement costs. He pointed to the strengths of a county-administered system, saying that staff know the families, understand local culture and needs, and collaborate well with other local service providers. Referencing an unsuccessful attempt a few years ago to add a new levy to support children services, Shryock stated that he and fellow commissioners are sympathetic to Brenneman’s plight when he requests additional dollars to cover placement costs, but noted that every time they do so, it directs precious funds away from law enforcement and other local needs. “We have no way of controlling dollars that are required when foster care cases and placement happens,” Shryock said. “No way to plan, no way to control. In a few short years we went from 18 average cases per month to 66. How do we fund that without more state support? Every dollar we fund locally for children services is a dollar we don’t have to spend in providing criminal justice system oversight.” Shyrock also pointed out that in Coshocton and many other counties, federal American Rescue Plan funds are being used for infrastructure and long-term investments, not one-time costs, which he thinks is appropriate.

Board of Trustees meets
The PCSAO Board of Trustees met on May 5 and approved the March 2021 financial report, the building lease renewal for four years, and revised personnel policies that include a new work-from-home policy. The board discussed the status of the newly approved director of strategic initiatives position, the draft agenda for the June 24-25 in-person Executive Membership Meeting, and the Legislative Committee’s report. Finally, board members received updates pertaining to the budget, Family First, OhioRISE, a new Medicaid Medication Report, federal legislation, Ohio START, annual conference planning, REI training series, and workforce research. The board will meet virtually on June 2. 

Two of three levies pass
Voters in two counties passed children services levies in last Tuesday's primary. Congratulations to Portage County for enacting a new levy and to Allen County for renewing an existing levy. Knox County voters opposed a new levy there. Read more.

Community Education Committee discusses treatment foster care
The Community Education Committee met May 7 for a presentation on treatment foster care and Family First. Committee members also reviewed successes with April’s Wear Blue Day and Child Abuse Prevention Month, as well as plans for Foster Care Month. The committee meets next on June 4. 
PCSAO panel testifies on state budget
Skyrocketing placement costs for children in foster care are outpacing local levy dollars, county general revenue funding and the state’s increased child protection allocation, leading advocates to testify before the Senate Health Committee May 4 for additional funding to support kids and families. Coshocton County JFS Director Danny Brenneman and South Central Ohio JFS Director Jody Walker joined PCSAO Executive Director Angela Sausser in requesting a $50 million increase in the State Child Protection Allocation, a request supported by the County Commissioners Association of Ohio. Sausser said that county agencies are spending the historic new investments made by the Governor and General Assembly two years ago. A survey of county agencies revealed that four out of five spent the new investments in the current budget primarily on placement costs, and that two in five agencies forecast their financial outlook during the next biennium to be weak or even at deficit levels. Sausser noted that maintaining the current investment is critical, but in the next two years new state and federal requirements, including Ohio’s Kinship Support Program and the Family First Act, will increase costs for counties even more. Projected increases, primarily placement costs, amount to a minimum of $52 million per year. Also testifying was Ohio START Family Peer Mentor Sarah Hayden of Warren County Children Services. Read more. View the testimony here.
Ohio START holds first spring consortium meeting
On May 6, Ohio START held the first spring consortium meeting with approximately 80 people in attendance. During the meeting, participants heard program updates, learned about new Motivational Interviewing training and coaching, reviewed newly revised program documents, and heard from evaluators at Ohio University regarding Ohio START staff surveys. The second spring consortium will be May 12. For more information or to register, click here.

Come work with us!
Ohio START is seeking a regional manager to assist with management and implementation of our program, focused on the development and oversight of technical assistance in a specified region of the state. Read more and apply here.
State and Federal Updates
Gov. Mike DeWine announcements this week:
  • A new Ohio Department of Health order will exempt fully vaccinated staff in nursing homes and assisted living facilities from routine testing. Staff members who are not fully vaccinated will be required to be tested twice a week. 
  •  The Ohio Department of Aging and Ohio Department of Health have developed a homebound vaccination playbook for organizations working to ensure homebound individuals have access to the vaccine. By utilizing existing Rapid Response Teams, Ohio can deliver the vaccine where it is needed. 
  • As always, more information is available at coronavirus.ohio.gov.
National Foster Care Month
May is National Foster Care Month. Interim Director Matt Damschroder of ODJFS recorded this heartfelt message thanking foster families for acting as a support to families and helping to reunify 45% more children last year, and encouraging families to find out more if they are interested in fostering. Find more information about ways you can recognize National Foster Care Month here.
Rules Update
Pre-Clearance: As of May 7, there are no children services-related rules in Pre-Clearance.

Clearance: The following rule is open for comments until May 13. This rule identifies terminology and definitions utilized in Ohio’s child welfare system. The following terms have been added, defined and/or amended: "Adoption disruption, Adoption dissolution, Aftercare services, Aftercare supports, Approved adoptive home, Approved kinship home, Child, Criminal records check, Cultural competency, Disabled infant, Handicapped person, Interstate placement, Kin or Kinship caregiver, Physical impairment, Pre-adoptive family, Protective day-care services, Putative father, Resource Caregiver, Resource Family, Transfer and Waiting child " to the definitions rule. The terms "Hold status, Ohio adoption photo listing (OAPL) and OAPL matches" have been stricken from the rule due to the termination of the OAPL.

The following rules are open for comments until May 18:
Filed with JCARR: The following rules were final-filed on May 3 with an effective date of Oct. 10:
  • Rule 5101:2-45-01 - Administration of the Title IV-E candidate for family first prevention services (FFPS) program.
  • Rule 5101:2-45-02 - Title IV-E candidate for family first prevention services (FFPS) program eligibility.
  • Rule 5101:2-45-03 - Reimbursement for Title IV-E candidate for family first prevention services (FFPS) program.
  • Rule 5101:2-45-04 - Traditional candidate for Title IV-E foster care.

The following rule was final-filed on May 4 with an effective date of June 1:
Resources and Clips
AOF holds webinar on American Rescue Act
Advocates for Ohio’s Future (AOF) is holding a free webinar on the American Rescue Act May 14 from 10:30 a.m.- 12 p.m. More than $10 billion is heading to Ohio to help support families, communities and businesses as they continue to recover from the pandemic. A roundtable of AOF’s expert members will share how the ARP will impact issues like housing, education, broadband, Medicaid, TANF, food assistance, behavioral health, children, older adults, and more. Register here.

OCTF offers lunch and learn on creating healing space
The Ohio Children’s Trust Fund is offering a pre-recorded webinar on May 19 at 12:30 p.m. about "Creating a Space for Healing." The webinar highlights the work being done through the Resilient Children and Families Program at The Children's Home of Cincinnati and gives an overview of the Strengthening Families Protective Factors Framework. Register here.

Registration open for Safe & Together Institute Summit
Registration is open for the Safe & Together Institute Summit June 10-11. Early registration (through May 10) is $75, and standard registration is $95. For this unique event, the Safe & Together Institute has gathered professionals throughout Ohio to celebrate how the state has addressed the intersection of domestic violence and child welfare using the Safe & Together Model. Workshops will highlight Ohio’s progress around practice and training implementation and other Ohio-based efforts, and share the latest advances in domestic violence-informed practice. Register here.
Child Protection in the News
Drug overdoses killed more Ohioans in 2020 than in at least the previous 14 years, a grim milestone likely made possible by the pandemic.
The case of a mother accused of fatally shooting her 6-year-old son April 24 illustrates what former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim McCormack describes as a battle within the county’s Department of Children and Family Services.

State regulators ripped the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services after the 2018 death of 4-year-old Aniya Day-Garrett, saying social workers didn't follow protocols and that changes needed to be made. In response, the county announced sweeping reforms to address safety concerns, as it had several other times over the last two decades. But those changes haven't stopped deaths that continue to haunt the department. Today, cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer review our archives for details of nearly 20 other cases involving the deaths of children who had come to the attention of the county during every administration since 1997.

State regulators ripped the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services after the 2018 death of 4-year-old Aniya Day-Garrett, saying social workers didn't follow protocols and that changes needed to be made
A levy deemed "vital" to the future of Knox County Children Services failed by a 2-1 margin Tuesday, in a special election that saw Knox County's lowest voter turnout since 2017. Roughly two-thirds of voters (2,574) rejected Knox County Children Services' additional 1-mill property tax, while one-third (1,275) approved it, according to final, unofficial vote totals from the Knox County Board of Elections.
At first, most news accounts about the death of 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant focused on the immediate cause of death: She was shot by a Columbus, Ohio police officer outside the foster home where she was forced to live, a home to which police often had been called before. But now, the focus has expanded to the role of foster care itself.
May 4 – Foster care didn’t kill Ma’Khia Bryant (Opinion) – Child Welfare Monitor
As soon as it was disclosed that Ma'Khia was in foster care, advocates and pundits began to argue that her death is "indicative of deeper problems in the foster care system," as the Washington Post put it. That the case illustrates problems with foster care cannot be denied-but the points raised by some advocates are misleading and potentially harmful.
Morrison has been grooming Children Services Director Julie Gilbert to succeed him as JFS executive director, and JFS Assistant Director Shannon Glendon is expected to take over Children Services. The pair have been named the interim leaders. The commissioners posted the executive director position and have received 38 applications.
April 30 – Getting Started in Foster Care – Southwest Ohio parent
On any given day, 16,000 children in Ohio enter the foster care system, needing a safe and loving home where they can grow and thrive. Foster care offers temporary care - as little as a couple months and as long as a few years - for children whose biological parents are unable to do so. While many families who foster also choose to open their homes for adoption, the ultimate goal of foster care is to reunite children with their parents.
Calendar and Job Postings
May 14 | Conference Planning Committee Meeting
May 17 | Legislative Committee Meeting
May 10 | Southwest District Meeting

Note: Meetings will be held via web meeting until further notice.

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