$1 million invested in emergency response fund to help county Children Services agencies

Local News

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – One million dollars is being invested into a new emergency response fund for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The department said this will help county Children Services agencies, and the 16 thousand kids in their custody.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) told 2 NEWS this is not a grant award process, so there’s no set amount that each county gets, rather, this is a way to provide resources to agencies to help tackle issues like staff turnover or child fatality cases.

In the release, ODJFS said county Children Services agencies in Ohio are struggling with historically large case loads, as they announced a new emergency response fund of $1 million to help.

“Children Services agencies are struggling because they have large case loads, they’re dealing with case worker burnout and turnover,” said Bret Crow of ODJFS. “Most of that seems to be a result of the opioid epidemic.”

Crow said this will create a three-person emergency response team that’s able to respond to county agencies in crisis and help in the short term. He said they’re also looking to help with long term needs.

“Further down the road, we’re hoping to engage in a recruitment and retention campaign so caseworkers who are in place stay in place longer, and if counties should need more help, they can have help from the state to recruit more caseworkers,” said Crow.

Crow said many counties expressed concern about the strain of dealing with child fatality cases.

It comes as Montgomery County continues to investigate the recent death of Takoda Collins who died last December, and led to abuse charges against three people.

When asked if this investment was made because of Collins’ death, Crow said it wasn’t specific to one case but rather a response to systemic issues reported by agencies across Ohio.

Jewell Good, the Assistant Director for Children Services told 2 NEWS in a statement, “We are pleased to see that Governor DeWine’s administration has continued to support of child welfare agencies in the State of Ohio. This funding will primarily support rural counties, where it can be difficult to hire enough caseworkers and where caseloads of 30-40 cases per worker are not uncommon. Montgomery County is fortunate to have a fairly stable workforce with caseloads of 10-12 per child welfare caseworker, and we are able to hire and retain workers because we offer some of the best compensation in southwest Ohio.”

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