A quick rundown of Ohio child protection news this week
Weekly Update for May 11, 2020
Association Updates

Coronavirus updates
Gov. Mike DeWine continued efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus and to prepare the state for it. He announced a series of cost-cutting measures for the next two months to balance Ohio's budget, including:
  • Medicaid: $210 million cut.
  • K-12 Foundation Payment Reduction: $300 million cut.
  • Other Education Budget Line Items: $55 million cut.
  • Higher Education: $110 million cut.
  • All Other Agencies: $100 million cut.
  • A temporary hiring freeze in state government with the exceptions of personnel in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, safety and security, and direct care or institutional services. 
  • A freeze on pay increases and promotions for state of Ohio unclassified and exempt staff.  
  • A freeze on new contract services, except for certain public safety and COVID-19 services..
On Thursday, the governor announced that Ohio was entering phase 2 of the pandemic response. The first two announcements were related to restaurants and personal services:
  • Restaurants and bars in Ohio may reopen outdoor dining May 15 and dine-in service May 21. 
  • Personal services such as hair salons, barbershops, day spas, nail salons, and tanning facilities may reopen on May 15.
  • The governor is expected to talk about child care early this week, and about summer camps, swimming pools, campgrounds and movies by the end of the week.
Legislature acts on health orders, federal funds for local governments
The state legislature met this week and passed the following bills:
  • SB 1 - The bill, which was originally about occupational licensing, picked up an amendment that would limit any order issued by the state health director to 14 days unless an extension is approved by the legislative Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review. It passed the House 58-37. The Senate would have to concur with the House changes prior to the bill being sent to the governor. Gov. DeWine issued a statement criticizing the House for focusing on the wrong issues amidst the ongoing crisis rather than the state’s economy and balancing the state’s budget.    
  • SB 310 - Senate Finance Chairman Matt Dolan introduced this bill, which would distribute a portion of federal funding (CARES Act) to local governments grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. It was unanimously passed by the Ohio Senate. Under current federal guidelines, the money must be spent on COVID-19-related expenses such as personal protective equipment or overtime for first responders. The hope is for the federal government to eventually loosen restrictions to allow for more flexible spending by states. 
PCSAO continues to follow the COVID-19 situation closely and interact with state officials and community partners to ensure that county agencies are well represented and receive clear information. For the latest information from the state, visit the coronavirus.ohio.gov page.

Southeast District meets
The Southeast District met May 7 to discuss work-from-home benefits, family visitation, referrals and screen-ins, and the economic downturn. The group meets again by conference call in three weeks.

PCSAO 2020 conference goes virtual; call for presenters extended to May 15
The PCSAO Board of Trustees met this week and approved moving the annual conference to a virtual format. We still need your knowledge and expertise! The call for presenters has been extended to May 15. The conference theme is “Partners in Progress” to reflect the transformation taking place in the child protection system. The audience consists of children services professionals: directors, administrators, caseworkers, supervisors, attorneys, students and advocates. Submissions are due May 15 by 5 p.m.  Submit your proposal here . Note that you can download a preview of the entire application at the bottom of the submission link. You can check the  PCSAO Conference webpage   for updates.
Rules Updates

Pre-Clearance: As of May 8, there are no children services-related rules in Pre-Clearance.
Clearance: The following rules have a deadline of May 14 for comments:
  • Rule 5101:2-9-42 - Qualified residential treatment program. This new rule sets forth the definitions, timeframes and requirements for residential facilities to become qualified residential treatment programs (QRTPs). 
  • Rule 5101:2-40-10 - Ohio Kinship and Adoption navigator. This new rule provides eligibility and program information about Ohio’s new adoption and kinship navigator program, which has been developed in response to the Family First Prevention Services Act and requirements in sections 5101.851 through 5101.856 of the Ohio Revised Code. This rule describes navigation services that are available to kinship caregivers and families and post-adoptive parents and families.
The following rules from chapter 5101:2-47 (Title IV-E Foster Care maintenance) have a deadline of May 21 for comments. You can read a summary of the proposed changes here.
  • Rule 5101:2-47-08 - Required Application/Update for Title IV-D (Child Support) Services and Referrals to Title IV-A (Public Assistance); Healthchek; Third Party Insurance; and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • Rule 5101:2-47-13 - Title IV-E foster care maintenance (FCM) program eligibility: Legal responsibility requirements.
Filed with JCARR: The following rule was original-filed on May 4 and is scheduled for a hearing on June 6:
  • Rule 5101:2-33-21 - Confidentiality and dissemination of child welfare information.
The following rule was refiled on May 5:
  • Rule 5101:2-5-09.1 - Criminal records check required for certain prospective employees and certified foster caregivers.
Announcements and Resources

NCWWI offers webinar on supporting the virtual worforce May 12 and 15
The National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) is offering a webinar called "Supporting the Virtual Workforce: Using Social Media & Technology to Engage Children, Youth, and Families" May 12 and 15. During the COVID-19 crisis, child welfare workers are using technology to communicate with families. Foster parents are using technology to connect foster children to services and maintain connection with biological families. This webinar offers considerations and best practices to support child welfare workers as they use technology with the families they serve. Register here.

Capacity Building Center for States offers webinar on collaborating with courts
The Capacity Building Center for States will offer a webinar called "Collaborating with Courts to Promote Foster Care as a Support to Families, Not a Substitute for Parents" on May 28 from 1-2:30 p.m. Attendees will hear a live interview with Children’s Bureau Associate Commissioner Jerry Milner. They will also hear family and court perspectives in digital stories and examine strategies for implementing cross-system collaboration with the legal community and applying them to your agency. Register here .

Child Welfare Virtual Expo scheduled for Sept. 24
Mark your calendars! On Sept. 24, the Children’s Bureau and the Capacity Building Center for States will hold a Child Welfare Virtual Expo. The virtual expo will bring together child welfare professionals from federal, state, tribal, and partner organizations across the country to engage in online activities, discussions, and skill building around strengthening families, creating prevention-focused child welfare systems, and supporting implementation of the Family First Act. Find more information here .
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.

Mahoning County Children Services has been seeing a decline in referrals during the pandemic, and now the problem is growing much bigger. In March, the department was concerned that with more families staying at home, referrals would be down. Many come from teachers and school officials.

A few years ago, Brycson was a pupil in Stephanie Batchelder’s kindergarten class. Now, he’s her son. Nothing — not even the coronavirus pandemic — could stop that. Stephanie, 35, and her husband, 38, adopted 10-year-old Brycson in Allen County’s first “virtual adoption” on Tuesday.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an especially stressful time for children in foster care or living in group homes. In Ohio, hundreds of those children are nearing their time to age out of the foster care system. Many of them are left to wonder where they’ll end up amid the uncertainty of a global health crisis.
It is so important to help your kids through the coronavirus pandemic, but there are many children who don't get help, or worse, they're abused. Child welfare workers are growing increasingly worried about this. 

COVID-19 isolation in homes has stirred deep worries about abuse -- domestic violence, elder abuse, child abuse. With people not going outside much, the signs of abuse might not be seen by others outside the family, and the ability to seek help also is constrained.

Like many people during the COVID-19 crisis, I have increased the amount of news I consume. It is important to be informed and be able to make educated decisions. In the past two weeks, a few news stories have caught my eye and they all relate to keeping our children safe.

The old Park Hotel on Knapp St. in south Toledo is about to get a face-lift. The Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority (LMHA) recently bought the hotel and now plans to turn it into apartments for an under-served community. It will be turned into housing for adults who age out of the foster care system, providing a stable foundation to build lives that they might not have otherwise.

With added stress of the pandemic, Ohio’s Department of Child Protective Services remains responsible for placing vulnerable children in safe homes.
Upcoming Events

May 11 | Rules Review Committee Meeting
May 18 | Legislative Committee Meeting
June 3 | Board of Trustees 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