A Thank You to This Agency’s Important Partners

For my most recent column in Update, our community e-newsletter, I expanded on my last blog post. My goal was to thank all of those who partner with us and ask nothing in return. I could not mention everyone, but I picked some of our most prominent partners, who really help us provide services that make this community a better place to live.

Also, check out some of the other stories in the newsletter, which comes out monthly. We would love to have you as a subscriber.

Thank you!



Working to Earn — and Keep — Your Trust

When I was appointed director in 2007, I made a point of telling this community our agency would be more accessible, accountable and transparent. My goal was to gain your trust.

I realized early on we alone could not solve this community’s problems. We needed the support of everyone in the social services community, business community, government community and others to tackle tough problems such as poverty and child abuse. I knew we could not become the center of that community-wide effort if we did not have your trust.

I think we have made progress. Our partners in the social service community have worked hand-in-hand with us through trying times, when the economy has greatly increased the number of people walking through our doors while, at the same time, stark budget realities have led us to reduce staff and contracts. Our business community has aided us in foster care recruitment, workforce development and other critical areas. Local government leaders have supported us through tough times and helped us launch creative programs, such as the Higher Education Mentoring Initiative and the Crossover Youth Project.

But I realize trust is a fragile thing. I never take it for granted. 

Last week, our agency made the news for the wrong reasons with criminal indictments against former employees. The justice system will work that out.

But I want to again confirm this agency remains committed to being accessible, accountable and transparent. Even in this situation, we discovered the alleged misconduct and brought it to the attention of authorities for a full investigation.

We are unhappy and disappointed that any employee of JFS would be suspected of improperly using or dispersing government assistance intended for the neediest in our community. Especially at a time when so many are seeking help from the agency.

These actions did not result in anyone from the community being denied benefits. Cases are approved based on the applicant meeting eligibility requirements and these actions did not limit the amount of assistance available to the public.

JFS undergoes regular audits and has received recognition for its efforts in the administration of public assistance programs. The agency was recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for its work on food stamp accuracy.

The overwhelming majority of JFS employees are hard working, honest members of society. The agency has nearly 800 employees who help protect children and the elderly, collect child support and provide financial, food and medical assistance to this community.

As I said, trust is a fragile thing. As the leader and public face of the Department of Job and Family Services, I take our relationships with this community extremely seriously and I pledge that our agency, as a whole, will continue to operate honestly and ethically. We plan to remain at the center of the efforts to improve the lives of Hamilton County’s citizens and we will continue to build strong partnerships throughout our community that will help us achieve that goal.

I hope you will not lose faith in us.

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.

Videos of Foster Children Give Extra Insight

We have many videos of our foster children who are available for adoption on both www.hckids.org and on our agency’s YouTube page, http://www.youtube.com/hcjfs.

These videos really give you a picture into the soul of these children. If you are interested in adopting, this is a good way to get to know these children.

Check out this one on Alec. He’s pretty eloquent:


Or this one on Perry, who really, really doesn’t like broccoli!


Former Foster Child Steps Up for Kin

Nice and inspiring Father’s Day story about an Ohio man who is doing what he can to help his family.



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!


June’s Story: Compassionate Customer Service

We have been stressing providing better customer service at our agency for much of the past year. All employees have gone through a customer service class, and it has been the focus of much communication from management.

Providing good customer service isn’t hard to do. It starts with being nice and responsive to people who need your help. I am proud to say many of our employees provide outstanding service to Hamilton County residents.

Latasha Rosich is one. She recently helped a grandmother whose daughter died unexpectedly, leaving the grandmother to raise her young grandson. The grieving woman had to deal with our agency over a child support issue, and she didn’t have much information. She turned to Latasha for help, and the results were exactly what she hoped. I am so grateful to have Latasha and other employees who take their job seriously and care about their customers.

Please click on the link below to see a short video about June’s situation and how Latasha made her life a little bit easier. The woman speaks from the heart, even tearing up at times. I am proud that our agency was able to help her in her time of need.


More Mentors Needed

Our Higher Education Mentoring Initiative was a great success this year, with 12 students going on to higher education. Just as importantly, I believe they made life-long friends in their montors.

HEMI mentors are paired with foster children in high school and assist, encourage and support their academic achievement, helping them to graduate and transition into higher education. It is really something many of our children need — hardly anyone ever talks to them about the possibilities available to them if they achieve college graduation.

Being a mentor is your chance to change a life and change this community. To register, contact Annie Dick at annie.dick@uc.edu or 556-4368.