April 2018

Meet Sean
Sean likes school, especially math because he's good at it.  He likes to play basketball and football and watch basketball on TV.

He likes pop music, Teen Titans Go, Cars 3 and Finding Dory. His favorite toys are cars, but he also likes to play Call of Duty, Monopoly and Minecraft.

Sean describes himself as nice, confident and trustworthy. He loves pizza and Doritos (who doesn't?) and will play anywhere outside.  He likes to read, visit the zoo, go bowling, play video games and shop.

He thinks he might like to be a construction worker when he grows up. And he'd like to go to Hawaii someday.

When he thinks about the kind of family he's hoping for, he says he would like pets, a mom and dad and siblings.

His caregivers describe him as respectful, energetic, responsible, intelligent and sweet.

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Wear Blue: Please help us spread awareness about child abuse

I hope you will join us in our Child Abuse Prevention Month efforts this year.

Child abuse prevention is a year-round focus for our agency, but April is the month set aside to really draw awareness to the problem. Sadly, we are busier than ever in our Children's Services division.

Certainly the opioid epidemic has played a part in this. But, we are seeing increases in all of the "symptoms" that lead to abuse and neglect: substance abuse (beyond opioids), untreated mental illness, domestic violence and more.

The good news is we are making strides in keeping families together, support for kinship placements and getting the intensive in-home treatment that families need. Still, our community finds itself in the same situation as every other metropolitan community in our nation: child abuse is a persistent problem that requires a collective prevention effort.  

We are participating in a statewide effort to raise awareness of child abuse and neglect on Wednesday, April 11. Wear Blue is a statewide awareness campaign for which Ohioans are encouraged to wear blue to work, school or any other activity to show support for preventing child abuse and neglect. Please join us in this effort. If you follow us on social media, we will not only be sharing photos of people wearing blue, but we will also have a contest to award those who most exemplify the purpose behind the effort.

Let's look at dads 
a little differently

Calvin Williams has worked on fatherhood projects for years. He has counseled hundreds, if not thousands, of men on how to have better relationships with their children, their children's mothers and how to find a job in order to pay child support.

He has also been there himself. His son is 24 now, but when he was younger, Calvin and the boy's mother had to work hard to stay committed to their son even though they did not remain a couple.

So he is the perfect person to be HCJFS' new fatherhood coordinator.

"I've got a lot to learn, of course," Williams said. "I am really honored to be here. It's a tremendous opportunity for impact on a new level."

Williams has been associated with many programs and agencies during his 27 years in Cincinnati, including the Genesis men's program, SUMA Fatherhood Project and Lighthouse REAL Dads. He also is former co-director of the Community Building Institute at Xavier University.

We're using a new tool to assess children

Hamilton County will soon use a new tool to help child welfare workers gather and assess information about children, while also helping the agency measure the outcomes and determine the strengths of contractors providing services to those children.

The predicted end result: a better understanding of a child's needs to ensure more effective treatment, which will lead to fewer placement disruptions, increased opportunities for reunification and improved safety.

"Keeping children safe - that is the end goal of everything we do here," said Margie Weaver, assistant director - Children's Services. "Every tool we use, every program we implement, every new effort we engage in, these are all puzzle pieces that ultimately connect together to support safety decision making."

Kids Insight's Treatment Outcome Package (TOP) is an innovative, holistic and easy-to-use approach to assessing and improving the emotional health and well-being of children involved with the agency's Children's Services division. TOP asks the child, and those close to a child - birth and foster parents, clinicians, teachers, caseworkers and the Children's Services worker, among others - to answer a 10-minute survey that will measure 11 to 13 different dimensions of well-being. The survey takers will be asked to assess things such as how a child is sleeping and how well they are doing in school.

Meet Nina Lewis

HCJFS has hired a senior-level administrator to coordinate and manage the agency's behavioral health work as the agency attempts to serve more families and children with greater emotional and mental health needs.

Nina Lewis joins the agency after many years of leadership in behavioral health care. She will lead the agency's behavioral health transition to Medicaid managed care for foster children, with a focus on multi-system partnerships, community-based programs and in-home services that strengthen the agency's behavioral health offerings.

In addition to her behavioral health work, Lewis will consult with providers about culturally-informed best practices.

Lewis previously directed provider relations for Hamilton Choices, an organization specialized in managed care for youth with severe emotional and mental health needs. She also served as a deputy director at the Hamilton County Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board and, for the past eight years, chaired the Union Institute and University's Undergraduate Social Work Program.

"Nina has a great and diverse background, and she can help us move forward on many fronts," said Moira Weir, agency director. "We are seeing so many more families and children with great mental health needs that it was imperative we get an appropriate level of leadership and coordination in that area. Nina's experience will be a great fit for one of our most pressing needs."