Giving to Our Children

We are often asked this time of year about donations of gifts for the children in our care, particularly foster children and those awaiting adoption. It is always touching to me to see the generosity of our community, especially during the holidays.

The agency has again established a partnership with Toys for Tots this year that will result in a donation of a few thousand toys to be delivered in mid-December. The U.S. Marine Corps Reserves provide an incredible service to our community and our children and we are extremely grateful for their generosity.

Because the Toys for Tots donation will cover most of the younger children on the agency’s caseload, we are encouraging other who want to donate to consider gifts for the teens in agency care. Those gifts could include gift cards to Walmart, Target, Kroger, Visa, MasterCard; household items such as irons, ironing boards, sheets, towels, etc.; and personal items such as jewelry, cologne, perfume, wallets, money clips, and purses.

If you want to donate, or know someone who does, please contact Brian Gregg at

Thank you for thinking about our children!


Thank You to the Community

Our abused and neglected children had a wonderful holiday this year. For the first time ever, we were able to provide toys to all the children who needed them.

We received more than 7,000 toys from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves’ Toys for Tots program. What an amazing organization! I cannot thank them enough for their support of our children. Next year, if you are looking for a group to support during the holidays, please consider this organization because they help so many in our community.

Many others rallied for our children, too. I hesitate to name them because I may leave someone out, but I will try to capture as many as possible: Fifth Third Bank, Xerox, Bellarmine Chapel, Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center, Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Green Hills, TransAmerica, Warriors for Children, Hamilton County administration, Siemans and several individuals.

Because of you, many children had a brighter holiday. Thank you!




Bringing Permanency to Children Who Need It

Permanency is crucial for the success of children. Children grow best in nurturing, stable environments. They want a sense of permanent “family.” For this reason, we are instituting Permanency Roundtables into our child welfare practice next month.

Permanent situations offer:

— commitment and continuity to children who really need it because of their situations
— a network of support to help those children thrive
— the safety of legal status, so someone has the authority to act in the best interests of the child
— the security of creating a long-term and meaningful connection between child and adult

Foster care was never meant to be the permanent answer for children in the child welfare system. Historical research shows, in general, the detrimental effects of long-term foster care on children. Foster care means different schools, different friends and the removal of most people with whom children share bonds.

Permanency Roundtables expedite the permanency process. These are structured, professional case consultations designed to apply innovative solutions and best practices – while removing systemic barriers — so a child can more quickly move into a permanent situation.

Permanency Roundtables are meetings where the professionals involved in a child’s life conduct an intense discussion and examination of the permanency options for the child. The participants will examine all aspects of the child’s life, the significant relationships in the child’s life and any other information that may help establish a plan to permanency.

The goal of the roundtable is to come out with a detailed, step-by-step permanency action plan for each child. We want to ensure resources are available to caseworkers to implement this plan. We also want monthly reviews on the progress.

JFS plans to make Permanency Roundtables part of its core practice. . These have been successful in other areas of the country.
We are devoting staff, time and resources to the effort and partnering with the Casey Foundation. This will lead to better all-around efforts on permanency, with increased training for staff, recognition of barriers and actionable data

The #1 goal is still safety. We will not compromise on that. But, if we explore new – and old — ideas, do some out-of-the-box thinking and come at this from a non-judgmental point of view, we might find new ways of helping these children. Let’s break the habits of tradition.

Do Ask, Do Tell Us About Child Abuse

We are launching a new awareness campaign today about reporting child abuse. The campaigned is aimed at mandated reporters — police officers, teachers, child care workers, etc. — and encourages them to look for the more subtle signs of child abuse and report them to our agency.

The “Do Ask, Do Tell” is a play off a phrase well-known in society. The goal is to get someone to ask themselves if there could be some concerns about the child and to call us if they have those concerns.

Our website,, details the signs of abuse and neglect and also contains the 30-second public service announcement now airing on television. We also have a 5-minute instructional video geared toward the mandated reporters.

Please check it out and let us know what you think. And, of course, if you know of any children who might be victims of abuse, call our hotline at 241-KIDS (5437). Do Ask, Do Tell!

Foster Care and Adoption

Just a reminder: we are having a live chat Wednesday at 10 a.m. to discuss foster care and adoption. This is your chance to ask questions if you have any desire to be a foster or adoptive parent. We have 850 foster children on any given day and more than 200 are awaiting adoption. Help change a child’s life and make your community a better place all at the same time!

Pinwheels for Prevention

If you are anywhere near Burnet Woods Park in Clifton next week, please stop to contemplate the message behind the beautiful pinwheels you see planted in the field facing Martin Luther King Drive.

More than 5,000 colorful pinwheels should be glistening in the sun – if our weather turns — but behind that beautiful display is a dark message: each pinwheel stands for a reported case of child abuse in Hamilton County. Last year, we had 5,058 such reports.

We use the innocent childhood toy to draw attention to a harsh reality: children in our community are abused on a daily basis. Last year, five children died from abuse. This is unacceptable. We hope, by drawing attention to abuse, more people will work to prevent it.

“Pinwheels for Prevention” is an annual statewide campaign. Hamilton County joins all 88 Ohio counties participating in Pinwheels for Prevention as a kick off to Child Abuse Prevention Month in April. This year’s local Pinwheels event 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 and the Council on Child Abuse of Southern Ohio, Inc.

The statistics on child abuse are disturbing. Nationally, 3.3 million reports of abuse and neglect, involving 6 million children, were made to child protection agencies across the United States in 2009. More than 1.5 million of those referrals were determined to be valid abuse and neglect reports. More than 1,700 children died from abuse or neglect.

The worst part of it all? Recent studies show only about 10 percent of child abuse is substantiated by social service agencies. Much of it goes unreported or unproven. Many children are suffering silently. We must provide voices to the voiceless.

Many citizens are unaware of how widespread child abuse is in their local communities. I am convinced they would not tolerate it if they knew it was happening. Believe me when I tell you it is happening in every neighborhood of this community. These pinwheels drive home the point.

What can you do? Be on the lookout. Report suspected abuse to our child abuse reporting hotline, 241-KIDS. Mentor a struggling parent. Take a neighborhood child under your wing. Advocate with a politician for laws and support for child abuse prevention.

Together, we can reduce the abuse in this community.

Next year, I hope we have far fewer pinwheels planted in that field.

November is National Adoption Month!

We have our special annual mass adoption cermony planned to celebrate National Adoption Month, along with a few other events. This is always a great time of year for our agency. Please read my letter on National Adoption Month and stories on some of the other things going on at JFS in this month’s edition of our community newsletter, Update.

Holiday Miracles for Foster Children

The true spirit of this community really shines during the holidays. Our agency has been on the receiving end of much giving this season and I would like to say a public thanks for the support.

Every year, we hold a holiday party for all of our foster children. This is the chance for little ones and teens alike to experience the joy of the holidays — something they may have missed growing up in difficult situations. Everyone comes together for music, games, food and gifts. It is incredible to see the smiles on their faces as they open their presents filled with dolls, games, Ipods, phones, etc. I love to hear their squeals of joy, especially the wide-eyed little ones when they see Santa.

This year, as in past years, the employees of Xerox helped with our celebration and donated gifts for the children. Also, Fifth Third Bank, the Health Alliance (Barrett Breast Imaging Center), Rockquest Climbing Center, Mariemont Community Church, the Foster Child Enrichment Council and the Kindergarten School donated items or money to make the event happen. In addition, the Coalition of Care, a group of local churches that has committed itself to our foster children and has done more for them than I could ever publicly recognize, worked with Montgomery Community Church to host the event and donated gifts.

In addition to the party, the Foster Child Enrichment Council makes sure all of the children who are involved with us receive a special gift for the holidays. Games, books, bikes — each child gets something from their wish list. This year, in addition to the FCEC, Our Lady of Rosary St. Mathias Church, Waite, Schneider, Bayless & Chesley Co. LPA, Xavier University and our own Job and Family Services employees donated to make the holidays special for our children. I cannot thank them enough.

Spending any time away from your family — or not even really having a family — is traumatic for a child. The holidays are especially lonely. But because of the generous hearts of people throughout this community, our children get a few moments of joy each holiday season.

Recognizing employees for outstanding work

We received the following e-mail today from someone who works closely with victims in our county court system. I have edited it to keep some information confidential, but the gist of it is that one of our workers, Jermil Tarver, has done a wonderful job on a case.

You will not read this on the front page of the newspaper, which is where our mistakes often show up. Do not get me wrong — I am the first person to admit we make mistakes and should be held accountable for them. But we receive little attention for the positive work we do, so maybe this blog can showcase some of the kudos we get from the community.

I appreciate each and every one of our workers. They often see horrible things, work long hours and receive a lot of negative feedback from the people they are trying to help. But I really appreciate workers who go the extra mile on behalf of a family or child. Thank you, Jermil, for your great work.

“I have been in this position for 13 ½ yrs. I have recently come into contact with an employee of yours by the name of Jermil Tarver, on a case of a man who was convicted of Gross Sexual Imposition on a child. In a time when we hear so many negative things about “JFS”, I wanted to make you aware of something very positive. Not that I’ve ever really had any complaints about any of your employees, however, when someone goes above and beyond, I feel compelled to let their supervisor know that they have done so.

NEVER, in all of my employment, have I seen any JFS worker put so much effort into a case as Jermil did on this case. He attended absolutely EVERY court hearing, was always on top of the matter, and was 200% invested in the case. I realize that each of your co-workers are bogged down by many, many cases and don’t always have the capacity to dedicate the time and effort that they wish they could to every single case, which is very unfortunate, but just as much a reality of life. Jermil treated this case as if it were the ONLY case he had. He would sit in court waiting and waiting for as long as necessary, when I’m sure he had a million other things he needed to be doing. He was so dedicated to helping our victim and making sure the right thing happened. I’m pretty sure he would’ve come in repeatedly on his own personal time if we asked him to. I was extremely impressed with his professionalism and dedication, and I can only hope that there are many more JFS workers out there like him that I have yet to meet. If only I could request him on every case I have like this!!!

I just wanted to insure that you know what an exceptional employee you have working for you, and for the citizens of Hamilton County. He was definitely an asset to the prosecution of our case and his time and dedication and “going above and beyond” were greatly appreciated by both myself and the Assistant Prosecutor who handled the case. I hope that Jermil is recognized for all of his hard work. He is an absolute asset to your office.”