Sweet Summertime!
Our summer edition of the e-Link highlights many awareness activities and events. We wouldn’t be nearly as successful with our community outreach efforts without the support of our community stakeholders, partners, and volunteers. They work tirelessly to help the families, children, and elderly of our community and are an integral part of making our community stronger. Thank you!

May was Foster Care Awareness Month and we hosted an amazing Foster Parent Recognition Event on May 18 to celebrate our wonderful foster parents. We are truly blessed to have such a tremendous group of families that are dedicated to supporting the children and families we work with.

During June, we will recognize Elder Abuse Awareness Month. This is a
time to raise awareness about elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Unfortunately, so many of these cases go unreported. 
Please help spread the word about the importance of protecting one of
our most vulnerable populations.

Local Elementary Schools
Go the Extra Mile
Nicholas Beam
Tallmadge Elementary
Haley Horn
Tarhe Elementary
Michael Turner
Tallmadge Elementary
As April comes to an end, we would like to thank everyone who participated in the activities related to Child Abuse Prevention Month. One activity, in particular, was our Blue Ribbon Artwork Contest, which is held every year with selected schools participating. This year, Tallmadge Elementary and Tarhe Elementary fourth grade classes created the most amazing Blue Ribbon Artwork. Three classes participated and three winners were chosen by public vote:

Tarhe Elementary: Haley Horn
Tallmadge Elementary: Nicholas Beam & Michael Turner

Thank you to Tarhe and Tallmadge Elementary for participating and recognizing April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.
May was National Foster Parent Recognition Month
“It’s All Relative: Supporting Kinship Connections”
On Tuesday, May 15, 2018, Fairfield County Commissioners Steven A. Davis and David L. Levacy, issued A Proclamation Recognizing May as Foster Care & Adoption Recognition and Recruitment Month. Pictured from left Andrea Stedman, Traci Hall, Ashleigh Duffy, Deputy Director Kristi Burre, JFS Director Aundrea Cordle, Commissioner Levacy, Permanency Manager Johanna Pearce, and Ruth Hoch. The Proclamation acknowledged the need for more foster and adoptive parents and kinship caregivers to meet the needs of children to heal and reconnect while establishing permanent lifelong connections. Currently, Fairfield County JFS/Protective Services has 35 foster families caring for 28 children. Another 38 children are in network foster homes. Moreover, kinship caregivers are caring for an additional 36 children in agency custody and others that are in the temporary custody of kin working with the agency. Agency foster parents and kin work hard to keep up with the latest trauma informed training, embrace working with birth families, and help children with behavioral and emotional health challenges. 

Agency foster parents received training during May regarding their imperative role in supporting families struggling with addiction. This training featured a Peer Support Mentor sharing her role with Ohio START (Sobriety, Treatment and Reducing Trauma). We are so appreciative of all foster parents and kin who care for children during challenging times with love, dedication, and selflessness. It isn’t easy but it matters a great deal. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a foster or adoptive parent, please call
740-653-4060 and ask to speak with someone on the foster care team.
Child Support Legislative Update
Significant updates are coming to Ohio’s child support system early next year. Ohio Senate Bill 70, otherwise known as the Child Support Technical Fixes Bill, took effect on May 11, 2018. This successful rendition updates current law, streamlines Child Support Enforcement Agency processes statewide, and increases efficiency and consistency from county to county. A delayed implementation period of nine months is mandated to permit the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to make necessary system adjustments to accommodate the requirements of the new law. As a result, these program enhancements will see the light of day in early 2019. 

One of the many changes ushered in via this legislation includes the establishment of uniform effective dates for administrative child support orders. Presently, no effective date is set by statute, creating disparity from county to county. This new uniformity, which mandates the day of the hearing as the effective date of the order, will reduce unnecessary delay and diminish frustration among customers with orders in multiple counties who experience varying effective dates. A related advance resulting from this bill will enable Child Support Enforcement Agencies to begin issuing paycheck withholding orders to employers via email, thereby expediting that payment process.

An additional change mandates uniform objection periods for a number of vital child support administrative processes. Presently, objection periods of varying lengths exist for paternity establishment, support establishment, and support termination decisions. This new legislation establishes a uniform fourteen (14) day objection period for these administrative activities. Such consistency will reduce customer confusion, while also bringing these administrative appeal deadlines in line with existing court order appeal periods. 

Reducing already congested court dockets is the aim of yet another change. The Child Support Technical Fixes bill will enable Child Support Enforcement Agencies to make reasonable assumptions regarding the parties’ incomes should they fail to appear at the administrative hearing. Such a change will make these administrative support establishment hearings more productive and trim court docket volume by reducing the need for unnecessary court hearings that resulted entirely from a failure to appear. 
The Child Support Technical Fixes Bill is just one component of a particularly noteworthy year in Ohio child support legislation as two similar child support guideline bills are presently pending in the Ohio legislature which would use updated economic data to calculate child support orders for the first time in nearly thirty (30) years.  

Helping Ohioans Parent Effectively

Fairfield County Protective Service is excited to share they were recently awarded funding for the planning and implementation of HOPE. The concept of HOPE is parents or foster youth who at one time had an open case with children services and work to support child protection caseworkers with their current caseload, both as parent advocates and as voices to improve the system. Some of these primary parents may have had their rights terminated, or their children have been adopted by other families; others worked their case plans and have been reunified with their children. Most have overcome addiction, mental illness and their own history of trauma to become spokespersons for the importance of community and government services that strengthen and stabilize families in crisis. HOPE parents may assist current parents with an open case with protective services by providing orientation, answering questions, attending meetings or court hearings to make parents and youth feel more comfortable. Parents with current open cases in Ohio attached to HOPE parent partners have shown they engage in services more quickly and have a higher likelihood of reunification with their children if removed.
May is Public Assistance Fraud
Awareness Month
May is Public Assistance Fraud Awareness Month in Ohio, and Fairfield County Job and Family Services is spreading the word that “Fraud Costs All of Us.” 
Individuals who mislead caseworkers or lie on an application for benefits are believed to account for a small percentage of the funding disbursed, but the department takes even small fraud cases very seriously. “In 2017, the agency received 715 fraud referrals. Five cases were prosecuted with individuals ordered to pay restitution of $188,718.00. From January to April 2018, the Prosecutor’s Offices completed 12 prosecutions; all of which were found guilty. “We appreciate the support and cooperation of the Fairfield County Prosecutor’s Office to fight fraud,” explained Laura Holton, Deputy Director of Community Services.   
"It is extremely important for individuals receiving public assistance to accurately report income and household composition,” said MaryJo Fox, Fairfield County Fraud Supervisor.
Individuals found to be committing fraud are removed from the program, must repay any improperly obtained benefits, and may face criminal charges and jail time. Residents of Fairfield County may report suspected public assistance fraud by calling Fairfield County Job and Family Services Fraud Hotline at 740-652-7616 or via the agency website at  www.fcjfs.org
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Available Statewide for Public Assistance Consumers
To help consumers access information regarding their Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food assistance) and Ohio Works First (cash assistance), Ohio deployed IVR technology statewide on Thursday, May 31, 2018. Consumers can call 1-844-640-6446 to hear their benefit summary status, which includes if a benefit is pending, closed, or active and the amount of the food assistance available. Callers are asked to authenticate with their Social Security Number and date of birth. Callers are able to sign up to receive case notifications and reminders via text message. Consumers will also be receiving robocalls aimed at individuals whose Medicaid was terminated for failing to complete the renewal process. To hear the benefit summary or to sign up for text messaging, callers should press option #2 at the main menu for Ohio Benefits at 1-844-640-6446.   
Elder Abuse Is Happening -
Help Stop It
Carrying on a JFS Tradition
Circus Night 2018 was a huge success due to the many staff and community partners who participated in this annual event. The event is a celebration of families in the community and a child abuse prevention outreach event. Approximately 600 families attended the event. We are always thankful for the community partners and other individuals besides staff who volunteer or donate their time to this event; Community Action Recycling, Kohl’s Volunteers, Fairfield County Dog Shelter, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, American Red Cross, YMCA, SWAT, Fairfield County Library, B.A.C.A (Biker’s against Child Abuse), Kiwanis, T.R.U.E Martial Arts, Early Head Start, Wendy’s, McDonalds, Fairfield Medical Center, Kroger, Walmart, South Central Power Company, Miller Financial, Conns Potato Chips, Mark Loy, Froggy’s Bakery, Crossroads Connections Volunteers, 10-U Mid-Ohio Raptors Baseball Team, and many others.
Special thanks to Co-chairs Sabrina Chabot/Sarah Abner and the entire Circus Night committee who went above and beyond to make the event happen. JFS is lucky to have such caring and hard working staff.