Touching video on the power of adoption

Our staff recently celebrated the adoption of one of the children who has been in our care for awhile. It was especially touching because the child has special needs and was older at the time of the adoption. It is often more difficult to find adoptive homes for special needs and older children. But this video shows there is joy and fulfillment in adopting all children. We have more than 200 children awaiting adoption and our hope is that every one of them will find a loving home.

I hope you enjoy this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaJ-fi5VxeM

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Three employees honored for great work!

I have to brag a bit this morning. I was proud to see three Job and Family Services employees recognized this morning at the Board of County Commissioners’ meeting as part of the Hamilton County Employee of the Year Program.

Of the seven awards given this year, our department had three honorees. I see that as a true testament to the hard work JFS employees do each day.

The JFS winners were Tom Sanders, Karen Evans and Natrasha Christian-Beasley. Congratulations to all of you!

The winners will also be recognized again on Fountain Square on Thursday, May 6, at noon as part of the Public Service Recognition Week celebration. If you see any of these winners, please congratulate them for their hard work and dedication to the citizens of Hamilton County.

All of Hamilton County’s Employees of the Year are listed on the County’s website: http://www.hamiltoncountyohio.gov/hr/EmployeeOfYear/EmpYear2010Home.asp.

Below is a short biography taken from each winner’s nomination for the award:

Tom Sanders
Innovation Award

Tom Sanders, a programmer in Information Systems at Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services, has worked on various projects related to moving the agency forward, but none as important as the design and implementation of the Appointment Management System in 2009. The system has improved customer service by ensuring JFS consumers are seen quickly and do not spend as much time waiting. The system also saves the agency and county an estimated $1 million over a five-year period. The system gives management staff the tools to increase productivity. Staff loves this new system; communication, both internal and external, has improved dramatically thanks to the new appointment system Sanders created.

Karen Evans
Customer Service Excellence Award

Karen Evans, a manager in the Customer Service Office at the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services, serves as the point person for all complaints regarding the agency’s public assistance program. In 2009, a year that saw record levels of Hamilton County residents seeking public assistance and the layoff of hundreds of JFS employees, that was a busy and difficult job. Even faced with the tremendous pressure, Karen stood as a symbol to all employees on how to maintain a positive attitude, how to treat customers, how to be innovative in the work you do and how to step up to the plate when needed.

Natrasha Christian-Beasley
Leadership Award

Natrasha Christian-Beasley, a Children’s Services supervisor at the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services, was nominated for this award by her employees who feel supported and motivated to excel for her. Natrasha never asks her team to complete a task that she has not or would not do herself; she has endless energy no matter what kind of day she is having. Natrasha has the ability to know when her team is overwhelmed; she is able to help employees refocus on the outcome of a case by listening while providing empathy and guidance to increase the quality of service delivery.

Employment Services Chat Draws Attention

We had a busy online chat today on employment services. You can view a transcript at the link below. Just goes to show times are still tough for a lot of people. Last year, our agency helped place nearly 4,000 people into jobs with an average starting salary of more than $10.50 an hour.

http://www.hcjfs.hamilton-co.org/BoldChat/Chat/BoldChat100421.htm

Pretty Pinwheels

I am a bit late on this, but check out this write up on our Pinwheels and some of the colorful photos. They will be up through this weekend. Please stop by Burnet Woods Park in Clifton to check them out. And remember — child abuse prevention starts with you!

http://www.hcjfs.hamilton-co.org/TodayatHCJFS/2010/04/Pinwheels100408.htm

Pinwheels for Prevention

Our annual Pinwheels for Prevention event is scheduled for 3 p.m. Monday. I encourage everyone to stop by if you are in the area.

We moved it from downtown to Burnet Wood Park, across from the University of Cincinnati, because of construction for the Banks Project. The park, located at the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Clifton Avenue, is a high-traffic area and the colorful pinwheels should catch a lot of attention.

We’re planting more than 5,300 this year. Last year, we received 5,353 reports of abuse and neglect that we investigated and validated in some way. That’s down from the year before, but still a disturbing number.

Pinwheels represent happy times for children. But, for the more than 15,000 children involved with our agency last year, those innocent, happy times were interrupted by horrific abuse. That is unacceptable in a caring county like ours.

“Pinwheels for Prevention: It’s Your Turn to Raise the Leaders of Tomorrow” is a statewide campaign organized by the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund to promote awareness and prevention of child abuse. Hamilton County joins all 88 Ohio counties in participating in the event, which is sponsored by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Hamilton County’s Department of Job and Family Services, Hamilton County’s Family and Children First Council, the Council on Child Abuse of Southern Ohio, Inc., the Cincinnati Police Department and the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department.

Here are the details for the event:

What: Pinwheels for Prevention: It’s Your Turn to Raise the Leaders of Tomorrow
When: 3 p.m. April 12 (pictures of planting and interviews with experts)
Where: Burnet Woods Park, corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Clifton Avenue, across from the University of Cincinnati.
Why: To promote the awareness and prevention of child abuse and neglect

Kathleen Sebelius Praises JFS Partnership

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Director Kathleen Sebelius visited Cincinnati this week and praised our work with Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Click on the link below for more information:

http://www.hcjfs.hamilton-co.org/UpdateNew2010/UpdateEXPRESS/HCJFS_UpdateExpress.htm

Fatherhood Program Tonight!

I’m a little late in posting this, but wanted you all to be aware of an event going on tonight. Lighthouse Youth Services will host the third annual graduation event for members of the REAL (Responsible, Effective, Accountable, Loving) Dads program. The event takes place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the New Thought Unity Center, 1401 E. McMillan Ave.

The REAL Dads program, which began in 2007, is designed for men ages 17 years and up who are in the Hamilton County Child Support system. REAL Dads helps eliminate barriers to employment and engagement with the child. The program provides counseling, job coaching and child support information to fathers who are at risk of failing to financially and emotionally support their children.

Since its inception, approximately 250 fathers have graduated from the REAL Dads program. These fathers have more than 1,100 children and have provided close to $350,000 in child support payments.

JFS is known for cracking down on delinquent parents; this program is designed to help them not only pay, but become better parents. Participants are in the REAL Dads caseload for six months and they are “protected” from any additional enforcement activities as long as they comply with the rules of the program and attend any and all Lighthouse activities.

Our REAL Dads program was chosen as a winner of a 2009 achievement awards from the National Association of Counties for innovative programs that contribute to and enhance county government. It was one of four JFS programs to receive that honor. (Only 13 in Ohio and 500 around the country.)

Twenty seven men are expected to graduate tonight. Dr. Kirk E. Harris, a facilitator with the National Fatherhood Leadership Group, will provide an update on the state of the fatherhood movement. Please join us if you can.