Child Abuse is Never Acceptable

I was alarmed to see the following story and statistic in today’s newspaper:

“In 2008 the Tri-State saw 22 cases of shaken baby syndrome that resulted in 3 deaths. So far this year there have been 17 cases that also resulted in three deaths.”

This is very sad. We do know that economic stress correlates to an increase in abuse. When a parent is stressed, they are more likely to lash out.

There is no excuse for harming your child. If you feel you are at the end of your rope, take a time out. Help is available. Call a family member. Call a friend. Call United Way’s 211 help line. Talk to someone. Once you step away from the situation for a minute or two, it is never as bad as you may think.


Stay Involved with Your Children

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, August is Child Support Awareness Month. The state Office of Child Support recently shared some facts that drive home the importance of the roles that non-custodial fathers and mothers play in the lives of their children.

According to the state, Research shows that when both parents are actively and positively involved in their childrens lives, the children are more likely to lead healthy and productive lives.

This is true no matter what size or shape the family comes in: moms and dads living together with their children, moms and dads living apart and cooperatively raising their children together, grandparents or other relatives serving as primary caregivers, single moms or dads raising their children, and various combinations of blended families.

In Ohio, 42 percent of children are born outside of marriage. For unmarried parents, a first step in developing a parental bond is establishing paternity.

Children with legal links to their fathers are more likely to know their full medical histories, have increased access to financial resources, and form a bond with both parents, the state says. With paternity established, a child is more likely to develop a positive self-image that helps him or her become a productive, healthy adult. Children who have the involvement of both parents in their lives are less likely to use drugs, more likely to graduate from high school, and less likely to become involve in criminal activities.

I encourage unmarried mothers or fathers to sign a paternity affidavit to establish legal paternity at the time of birth. Paternity also can be established later or through the Child Support Enforcement Agency.

If you have questions about establishing paternity, you may visit or call 1-888-810-OHIO.

Become a Facebook fan

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Did you know Hamilton County has a Facebook page? It is a great way to stay abreast of what’s going on at the agency. We constantly issue updates about our public assistance programs, child support collection, foster care, adoption and more. I encourage everyone to check it out and become a fan.

Here’s the link:


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Child Support Hero

Jeff Startzman, assistant director of our Child Support Division, recently was named Hamilton County’s 2009 Child Support Hero, following in the legacy of Sheriff Simon Leis, former County Recorder Rebecca Groppe and others. He has spent most of his career involved in the child support field, and for the past few years has led our collection efforts here.

Jeff, who is retiring in September, has been very innovative, instituting programs such as prison collections, personal liens and private online chats to help parents get child support answers. We will miss him as he moves on to retirement and, hopefully, relaxation.

Here’s a video of the award presentation:

Higher Education Mentoring Initiative Gets Rolling

We have scheduled the first training sessions for our Higher Education Mentoring Initiative (HEMI). Those who are interested in becoming mentors to our high school-age foster youth can sign up for training on Aug. 29 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.), Sept. 8 or Sept 10 (both 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.)

Also, this article by Commissioner Greg Hartmann, who led the launch of HEMI, appeared on The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Web site today:

I am excited. This will mean a lot for our young people. It is nice to get the ball rolling. I urge anyone who is at all interested to contact Annie Dick at 513-556-4368 or

For more about HEMI…

HEMI seeks to reduce delinquency and help prepare foster children for post-secondary education. More than that, it seeks to provide hope.

The initiative, a partnership between Hamilton County and the University of Cincinnatis Partner for Achieving Academic Success (PASS) in the College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services, will recruit, train and support mentors to establish long-term, positive relationships with about 25 Hamilton County foster youth each year. The mentors will assist, encourage and support academic achievement in high school, as well as post-secondary educational institutions. The mentoring relationship will be formal, with results tracked and measured.

UC will provide additional support through Scholl of Social Work students and an on-campus liaison to foster children.

The initiative will also seek a pool of available funds to help support the academic and life needs of foster children as they progress through the higher education experience. Private businesses will be asked to contribute both mentoring and financial support.

Hamilton County and UC will work together to create a support system to assist foster children in achieving academic success through high school and college. That plan includes:

Hamilton Countys Job and Family Services Department will identify approximately 50 foster youth per year who are strong candidates for higher education success and enroll them in the HEMI project. The agency will also provide support workers to assist as they progress through the program.

University of Cincinnati School of Social Work students will perform field studies at Job and Family Services and work with foster youth throughout their high school year.

University of Cincinnati PASS will establish a mentor coordinator position to train and support mentors. The mentor coordinator also will serve as an on-campus liaison and be responsible for identifying financial aid and scholarships available to foster youth, as well as advocating for legislative action that would assist the population.

Hamilton County and University of Cincinnati will utilize existing web-based data applications to track the short-term and long-term outcomes.

The Foster Child Enrichment Council will serve as fiscal agent to collect, track and disperse donations for computers, books, testing fees and other living expenses associated with the successful completion of high school and entry into higher education.

Mentors: Whats Required

Mentors will commit to a long-term mentoring relationship with minimum of two hours per week of personal interaction with their mentee. Theyll also be expected to be available for additional contact via telephone, e-mail, texting, etc. And, once a month, they will attend a monthly HEMI social activity. Mentors will be required to keep a contact log.

To prepare the mentors, a one-time six hour training will be devised, along with a three-hour quarterly training. Topics would include:

Understanding the mentee population
What research says about mentoring
Communication technology (how to text)
Focused mentor sessions with identified objectives
Todays high school experience and expectations
Senior Year
College Access
ACT practice tips

All mentors will undergo complete background checks to ensure the safety of mentees.