A quick rundown of Ohio child protection news this week
Weekly Update for October 5, 2020
Association Updates

Abuse reports fell when pandemic hit, begin to climb again
An analysis of state and county data shows that while child abuse and neglect reports fell sharply after schools closed in the spring due to the pandemic, such reports have begun to climb — close to pre-pandemic levels in several counties. The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impact on Ohio’s Children Services System also looks at the drop in the number of children entering foster care even as those who had already been in care began to linger, resulting in an overall increase in children in care. Read more.

Treating resource families as professionals improves retention, outcomes for kids
The latest report on improving Ohio's treatment foster care system recommends professionalizing caregivers by clarifying roles, enhancing training and certification, and reexamining costs and processes. The report, Professionalization of Treatment Resource Families, is the third from a joint effort by PCSAO and the ODJFS Office of Children Services Transformation. The goal is to expand the state's capacity and supports for treatment foster care placements in the run-up to Family First Act implementation in October 2021. New restrictions on placement in residential treatment facilities will mean that more youth with serious behavioral health problems will be placed in treatment or therapeutic home settings. Read more.

Community Education Committee preps for levy vote, adoption month, holidays
At its monthly meeting Oct. 2, the Community Education Committee discussed a range of children services issues impacted by the pandemic and the racial reckoning happening in the country. Topics included recruiting foster and adoptive parents, examining data about race and reports of abuse and neglect, planning events for the upcoming holidays, and campaigning for a levy when candidate/issue events are more sparse and requests for mail-in ballots are up sharply. Conversation also touched on Family First Act implementation and reduction of foster parent training hours with the passage of HB 8. Committee members also provided feedback on the PCSAO conference. The next meeting will be Nov. 6 and will focus on how to shift communications, language, and agency culture in light of system transformation.
State Updates
  • Gov. Mike DeWine provided an update on the Ohio Coronavirus Wastewater Monitoring Network which tests wastewater for gene fragments of COVID-19. Since the launch of the monitoring program, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has notified health authorities in six communities of a sustained increase in gene fragments found in their wastewater. ODH is currently monitoring 36 sites across the state, and an additional 25 sites will be added during the coming month.
  • Gov. DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Medicaid will open a new application for businesses interested in providing managed care plans for children and adults within the Medicaid program. The request for proposals is part of a new vision for Ohio’s Medicaid program that focuses on people.
  • Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced that Ohioans can now access training at no cost through 12 training providers under the Individual Microcredential Assistance Program (IMAP). Ohioans who are low income, partially unemployed, or totally unemployed can visit the IMAP landing page at IMAP.Development.Ohio.gov to work directly with the awarded training provider of their choice to enroll in the training program that works best for them.
  • Husted also reminded Ohioans that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid – also known as FAFSA - opens on Oct. 1. All students, high school seniors, current college students, and adults interested in attending or returning to college should complete the FAFSA.
PCSAO Conference 2020

Partners in Progress was a huge success!
PCSAO’s first virtual conference was a success! Thank you to all of our “Partners in Progress” who helped make our 40th anniversary so meaningful, even if it wasn’t the in-person celebration we had hoped for.

Continuing education training credit is being processed. CEUs, CLEs and E-Track supplemental training credit have been completed, and certificates will soon be emailed to participants whose attendance can be verified. If you have questions about the conference, contact Cassandra Freeland.

If you missed our conference, or just missed a workshop, you can find slide decks, handouts, and other information from all of our workshops. We hope to post video recordings of each plenary and workshop soon.
Rules Updates

Pre-Clearance: Proposed rules and forms related to implementation of Family First Prevention Services are now in pre-clearance. The following rules are open for comment until Oct. 30:
  • Rule 5101:2-1-01 - Children services definitions of terms.
  • Rule 5101:2-36-10 - PCSA requirements for responding to family in need of services reports.
  • Rule 5101:2-40-02 - Supportive services for prevention of placement, reunification and life skills.
  • Rule 5101:2-40-05 - PCSA requirements in providing family first prevention services.
The following forms are open for comment until Oct. 29:
Clearance: The following rules are under five-year review and are open for comments until Oct. 8. Residential facility rules:
Adoption and MEPA rules:
  • Rule 5101:2-33-03 - Procedure for complaints of alleged discriminatory acts, policies or practices in the foster care or adoption process that involve race, color, or national origin.
  • Rule 5101:2-33-11 - Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA) agency administrative requirements.
  • Rule 5101:2-33-13 - Administrative procedures for falsification in adoption.
  • Rule 5101:2-33-70 - Statewide automated child welfare information system (SACWIS) access.
Filed with JCARR: As of Oct. 2, no new children services-related rules have been filed with JCARR.
Announcements and Resources

Crane Center studies effects of COVID on families
Ohio State University's Crane Center for Early Childhood Education produced a white paper entitled "Ohio Families Struggle during COVID-19 Pandemic." Researchers examined risk of exposure to the virus, social and economic experiences, and psychological distress of caregivers during Ohio’s stay-at-home order. They also examined positive experiences families had during the crisis. You can read the paper here.

Ohio Department of Medicaid releases RFA for next generation of managed care
The Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) released its Request for Application (RFA) for its Managed Care Organization procurement on Sept. 30 after an18-month campaign that drew over a thousand comments and feedback. This is the first structural change to the Ohio Medicaid Managed Care Program since its approval in 2005. According to ODM, the focus is on prioritizing the individual and optimizing real-time data with personalized care methods and value-added incentives to deliver the best value in quality health care. The RFA is aligned with ODM’s five visionary goals:  
  • Improve wellness and health outcomes
  • Emphasize a personalized care experience
  • Support providers in better patient care
  • Improve care for children and adults with complex needs
  • Increase program transparency and accountability
The RFA and additional details about Medicaid’s Managed Care procurement process can be found on the Request for Application page of ODM’s website.  
Child Protection in the News

Drug overdoses killed more Ohioans in May than in any month in at least 14 years, a potential side effect of the coronavirus pandemic that leaders fear could flare up again before things get back to normal.

As the new coronavirus began its march across the United States, Chief Tom Synan knew a “hurricane” was coming.

Montgomery County Children Services - which has come under scrutiny for its handling of some cases - will restructure its organization and revise policies to better serve maltreated and neglected children, according to county officials who unveiled a new strategic plan for the agency Tuesday. Debby Shaw, Children Services' interim assistant director, outlined six key components of the plan, including spelling out procedures for caseworkers who have reason to believe quick action is necessary to prevent harm to a child.

While he typically uses his press briefings to address the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine sometimes uses his time in front of the camera to discuss other matters as well. On Tuesday, DeWine did just that, announcing a "new vision" for Ohio's Medicaid program, which would mark the state's "first major overhaul of Medicaid in 15 years." The plan will focus on children with complex needs, emphasize specialized care and give doctors and providers more time to spend with patients.

Throughout September, some of the first responders for Ohio families in crisis have been lauded for their commitment. During Workforce Development Month, state agencies and organizations have honored the extraordinary efforts of Children Services professionals during the pandemic and shared their stories on social media.

Sept. 28 - Ohio kinship care during the pandemic – Center for Community Solutions
As my children returned to their virtual classrooms, we often work alongside each other. And while headphones have become a necessity for all of us, sometimes we take them off so I can hear instructions from the teacher. One thing I appreciate from my children’s teachers is the recognition of all types of families and living situations. I hear this in the language they use. Instead of using “parent” I often hear, “the adult working with you” or “someone at your house who can help you.” This type of inclusive language applies to children living with, and being cared for, by grandparents, foster parents, aunts, uncles, older siblings as well as those who live with their biological parents.
PCSAO Rising Up and Moving On Award
During our conference, PCSAO honored four youth who, despite their past trauma and time in foster care, have demonstrated resilience and success in life and education. Read about them here.
Profiles of Hope and Courage

Christian: 'I work hard to make it feel like you are at a home'

Christian Jent is a case aide who oversees family visitation for Warren County Children Services. The agency’s visitation facility is a large Victorian house called The Townhouse, complete with a full kitchen, two bathrooms and a playset outside. Since the pandemic began, Christian has tried her best to make sure there was no lapse in visitation. 

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 pandemic.
Upcoming Events

Oct. 7 | Board of Trustees Meeting
Oct. 9 | Conference Planning Committee Meeting

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

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.

Also, check out recent graduates of the University Partnership Program who are trained and ready to be hired by public agencies.
Public Children Services Association of Ohio || www.pcsao.org