April 2019
Lavayah is a smart young lady who can be very pleasant and a joy to be around. She thrives on positive attention, clear expectations, rules and a reward system.
Lavayah says she would like to be adopted by both a mom and a dad who like to take trips and play games. 

This energetic girl says she wants parents who enjoy vacationing in spots like Gatlinburg and who like taking day trips to places like Kings Island. 

When she's not on the go, Lavayah enjoys drawing and writing.

Lavayah says she is pretty smart and proud of her math skills. She does well in school and loves to sing, especially gospel music in her church. 

 Looking for employers to hire youth this summer
CCMEP's Summer Youth Employment Program is seeking local employers to serve as work sites for local youth.
We are looking for sites that can provide opportunities for youth to gain valuable work skills and a good learning environment.

Talbert House will be the employer of record, but these individuals will be out-sourced to employers throughout the community between June and August. All youth wages will be paid by Talbert House.

If you are interested in being a work site for Summer Employment Program, please click here to register to attend one of our Employer Orientations. All sessions start at 5 p.m. 

Author sees foster care video, sends books
New York-based author and actor Brandon T. Snider was back in his hometown of Cincinnati recently when a video of a child in foster care caught his eye.

"Makayla had such a bright, curious spirit. She was bursting with energy and, when she said she loved to read, I knew I had to give her a book," Snider said.

He sent her a personalized, autographed copy of a  chapter book about Wonder Woman.

Snider has written books for Marvel, DC Comics and Cartoon Network. "A lot of my work is aimed at younger readers and I think it's really important to present kids with positive, inspirational themes," he said.

"Wonder Woman felt like the right choice since she's a solid role model for young girls, Snider said. "I hope Wonder Woman's heroism and spirit empowers Makayla the way it's inspired me."

But Snider didn't stop with one book.

He contacted a colleague at Random House Children's Books who sent a big box of books weighing more than 45 pounds.

Thank you, Brandon, for inspiring kids in foster care.

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Efforts underway
to strengthen JFS

Among the many things learned in my 12 years as director of Job and Family Services: organizations can always make themselves better. 
Of course, this applies to everything in life. Never grow comfortable and always reevaluate how you can improve.

This is the approach we take at JFS and it is the reason we recently made three key moves:
  • hiring someone to lead community engagement efforts
  • working with a local strategy company to examine the JFS "brand"
  • consulting with local experts to ensure we strengthen our ongoing efforts to be an equitable, inclusive organization    
These efforts all tie together. We want to position ourselves as an organization known for helping all Hamilton County residents to a better place in life.

Success story:
Delores gets her CDL 

Delores Williams is tough, and she is used to hard work. But getting her Commercial Driver's License was a different kind of challenge.

She worked in concrete construction for 16 years, but when she was sidelined by an injury, she took advantage of an  HCJFS program that paid for her to receive training from Napier Truck Driver Training.

The program allows certain benefit recipients to complete the program and covers the cost of tuition. Williams said the amount of information covered in the classroom, combined with learning how to drive and back up a tractor-trailer, was overwhelming.

"I just went for it. I didn't think it would be as tough as it was," she said.

She graduated Jan. 31, but her license test wasn't until mid-February. Williams felt like she didn't "get it" when it came to driving the big rig, so she made a plan of attack.

Napier allows students to return any time after graduation to refresh skills.

She went back into the training center every day after she took her son to school and stayed up to seven hours studying and driving. "I knew sitting at home wasn't going to make me get it," she said.  But when she was at home, she still studied. "I would put a video on while I was brushing my teeth."

She knew many people took up to three tries to pass the CDL test, but she was determined to "one and done" it.

She did.

"I was mad that I got an 84, I wanted a 100," she said. "As much as I studied, I wanted a 100."

Delores has been working for (three) weeks now, making deliveries at night to businesses such as car dealers. She's on track to earn more than $60,000 this year. 

Meet our new engagement director

We all know there is good work being done at HCJFS every single day. Now, we have a new employee whose job it is to help those outside our walls better understand all that we do and how we are willing to listen and partner in efforts that improve our service to families and children.

Chandra Mathews-Smith started Monday as our new assistant director - community strategies and engagement. She wasn't looking for a new job, but immediately was interested in this position because of her respect for Director Moira Weir, whom she has known since they were both caseworkers. They both also sit on the board of the Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency. Mathews-Smith is the board's chair.
She's excited about this job because she has always felt a connection to HCJFS. She's a former foster parent for Hamilton County and an adoptive parent. She led an effort through Beech Acres Parenting Center - where she worked for more than 20 years and eventually became a vice president - to recruit emergency foster homes. She "spent a lot of time in churches, in the community and at rec centers talking about the need for foster homes."

But her work goes beyond issues pertaining to Children's Services. She also worked at the Council on Aging of Southwest Ohio as a consultant, helping to keep seniors out of the hospital, and as vice president of operations for Medicaid services. She's worked on poverty issues, too.

She grew up in Michigan, but has called Cincinnati home for 29 years. She raised three daughters and a fourth attends Turpin High School. She is a proud grandma of three. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, a sisterhood of predominantly black, college-educated women who work on service projects in education, health and economic development.

Mathews-Smith was chosen one of 10 Women of the Year last year by The Enquirer and The Greater Cincinnati Foundation. She was selected for her work with the Community Action Agency and C&C Premier Cleaning, a company she co-founded where the goal is to employ people who have felony records or other barriers that make it difficult for them to find work.

She expects to return to a lot of churches and other locations as she heads back out into the community on behalf of HCJFS. She wants to help the community understand more about the agency and how we want to work together to make positive change in all our service areas.

"I'm honored to take on this huge role," she said. "This is something that's after my own heart."