Libraries are a Good Alternative to Visiting Downtown

I would like to remind everyone of our partnership with the Public Library of  Cincinnati and Hamilton County. It is a great way to avoid the time and gas needed for a trip downtown.

If you are a public assistance recipient and need to get verification documents to us, you can visit any branch of the library and fax them in, rather than make the trip downtown. We are extremely grateful to our partner for helping us with this service.

The weather has been particularly dreary lately.  Some might not want to make the trip downtown in the rain. This is a great alternative!

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New Way to Check on Child Support Cases

We have about 90,000 child support cases in Hamilton County. Each case accounts for two parents and at least one child, so at any given time, at least 270,000 people are involved in child support cases. Many cases have more than one child, so it is safe to say that number exceeds 300,000. In a county of 825,000, that is more than a third of all people.

Among the most common calls we receive at our agency are from parents attempting to check the status of child support payments. I am happy to announce we now have a way for everyone to check their status online.

The state of Ohio has launched a new Web portal for custodial and non-custodial parents to access child support case information, payment history, payment status and more.

This is great. Not only will it provide the consumer the information they need at the click of a mouse, it will take pressure off our busy phone lines and caseworkers. It is a win-win!

Here’s the link:

https://childsupport.ohio.gov/childsupportsplash.jsf

Mentors Needed for Foster Children

Our Higher Education Mentoring Initiative is in need of mentors. If you are someone interested in helping a youth in need, this is a perfect program for you. You will spend time helping a foster child graduate high school and go on to some type of post-high school success. You will also likely make a life-long friend.

We started this program because of a need. We saw our foster children struggling to graduate high school and move on to successful higher learning opportunities. Nationally, only 3 percent of foster children earn college degrees. Our numbers were similar. They were aging out with nowhere to go. They have much higher rates of homelessness, incarceration and other social problems than non-foster children.

Rarely, if ever, is a conversation even had with these children that higher education is an option. Furthermore, if higher education is discussed with them, it often seems daunting or unattainable due to the unawareness of financial resources and assistance available to them.

 The purpose of this community partnership is to provide foster youth with a long-term mentoring relationship that begins in high school and is focused on the awareness of, and preparation for, post-secondary education and training.

The program goal is to reduce the number of foster youth who drop out of high school; increase the number who apply to and pursue higher education; and set foster youth on a path to successful careers and sustainable income.

With the great partnership we have with the University of Cincinnati’s Partnership for Achieving School Success (PASS), Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, Great Oaks Institute of Technology and Career Development and the Hamilton County Board of Commission, this has turned into a wonderful program. Since its start, 100 percent of the students have graduated high school! We served 37 students last year and most are pursuing higher education at schools such as UC, Cincinnati State, Great Oaks, the College of Mt. Saint Joseph and The Ohio State University

There is some commitment to being a mentor. You’ll commit to a six-hour training course and spending two hours a week with your mentee through high school graduation and on through their pursuit of post-secondary education.

To be considered for the mentor program, participants must fill out an application, undergo a background check and complete an interview process. This includes providing a copy of a valid drivers’ license and proof of insurance.

To obtain an application and for more information, contact Annie Schellinger, UC HEMI Program Coordinator, at 513-556-4368, or e-mail annie.schellinger@uc.edu 

The true success of this program is with the relationships. We have had some tremendous mentor/mentee relationships. In fact, the relationship often blossoms into a true friendship. That makes this program better than we could have ever expected, because these children end up with life-long mentors!

Renewed Partnership Should Lead to More Child Support Payments

I am extremely happy to renew a partnership with WCPO-TV that is designed to locate parents who are severely delinquent on their child support payments. This is a partnership that stretches back about 15 years and Channel 9 estimates approximately $3.4 million was recovered in child support during that time because of the broadcasts, which feature the names and pictures of delinquent parents.

We always say that we cannot do this job effectively without community support and this is a perfect example of partnering with another community entity to benefit Hamilton County’s children.

To be featured on a broadcast, the delinquent parent will have a warrant out for their arrest because of overdue money and will typically have been considered in contempt of court because they failed to show up for a court hearing.

The reports will air at 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays. Please look for them.

In this economy, it is more important than ever that children receive support to meet their basic needs, such as food, shelter and clothing. If you know the location of parent who is not paying child support, please call (513) 946-5350.

Processing Times Improving

We have been pretty open about our timeliness problems with public assistance applications. If you’ll remember, we wrote this letter to the community in November.

We promised we would get better and we have. I am happy to report our we processed two-thirds of our food stamp applications in a timely manner during the last week of December. That number would have been even higher if we had not held on to some cases for a lengthy period of time hoping for consumers to get in the required verifications.

We still have a ways to go. The recession and its resulting budget cuts created a condition where we were serving an exploding caseload with fewer people. But we have since hired more employees, shifted others to this critical area and made technological and process improvements that have us on the right track.

We appreciate your patience with us. We will continue to work hard on your behalf.