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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 greggb@jfs.hamilton-co.org.

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, www.doaskdotellus.com, 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.