Adoption Recrutiment Event on Saturday

If you’re thinking about adopting, HCJFS is hosting an adoption recruitment event at the Colerain Bowling Alley this Saturday Feb. 15 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. If you have a completed home study on file or letter from your agency, you may attend this event and meet some of our children available for adoption. Make sure to RSVP! To learn more, check out the flier. http://ow.ly/d/1S9F

New Year’s Resolutions

In case you missed it, here is my latest column in Update, our community newsletter. It lays out some of our agency goals for 2014. If you are not an update Subscriber, here’s a link to the latest issue, where you can sign up to receive the monthly newsletter: http://www.hcjfs.hamilton-co.org/UpdateNew2014/January/Cover.htm

 

Like everyone else, I like to make New Year’s resolutions. There is no better time to take stock of your life and set new goals for yourself.

I do the same with our organization. While we are constantly looking at ways to improve how we serve the public, the annual turning of the calendar is a great time to publicize our plans for organizational improvement.

This year, the number one goal at JFS will be to improve the customer experience. We want to make the experience with us as quick and simple as possible. I realize that with the volume we serve – we serve more than half a million people in this community annually – “quick and simple” is a relative term. Still, I would like it to be less cumbersome.

Therefore, we will be working on doing all of the following:

  • Emphasizing answering/solving consumer contacts at the initial contact, thereby reducing the need for follow up contacts
  • Reducing hold times in our busy call center
  • Maintaining statewide metropolitan county leadership in food stamp timeliness and work participation rates
  • Matching or passing our next closest metropolitan county in Child Support incentive categories
  • Increasing our mobile/web presence, making it easier to conduct business with the agency
  • Increasing our social media presence to educate the public about JFS
  • Examining current-day best practices in customer service and implementing the best

Another major goal is to oversee the expansion of Medicaid and the implementation of the Ohio Integrated Eligibility System (the computer system used to process public assistance applications). The expansion of Medicaid is expected to add 42,000 more people to our caseloads, pushing us to over 200,000 recipients, which is one fourth of all county residents. These two projects together will take up much agency time and effort in 2014.

Finally, we are going to embark on an education campaign with the community that details the work we do and how we help this community. I worry sometimes that message gets lost. We are an agency that helps, whether it is protecting abused children and the elderly, ensuring children receive the financial support they deserve, providing a lifeline during times of trouble, assisting with the cost of child care so a parent can work or aiding in a job search. We do good work here and I want the public to know that.

That is our plan for 2014. Let’s make it a great year! 

 

Happy Holidays

Our offices will close at noon tomorrow and reopen Thursday morning. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday.

We were very fortunate this year to have much support from the community. Toys for Tots once again donated hundreds of toys to our abused and neglected children. The U.S. Marine Corps Reserves does a fantastic job and helps so many people in this community and around the country.

Two churches, the Peoples Church in Clifton and Montgomery Community Church, held holiday parties for our children. It is so nice to be able to give them a sense of normalcy around the holidays and to see smiles on their faces!

Numerous other people donated gifts to our children. I wish I could name them all. The generosity of this community always amazes me.

Thank you and may your holidays be warm and filled with family and friends.

 

 

 

 

A True Honor

I am extremely humbled and grateful for the recognition I received at last night’s Higher Education Mentoring Initiative’s holiday party. I can think of no greater honor that than to have my name attached to a scholarship that will help a young person achieve their dreams. Education is the foundation cornerstone to health, happiness and economic prosperity – three things, we can all agree, we wish for all of our teenagers, whether they are in foster care or not.

I think back to a few years ago when I read about a partnership in California between local colleges and the agency that serves foster children and how I thought to myself, “I wonder if we could do that here?” Now we know. The answer is, “Absolutely!” With hard work, dreams do become reality and this program is proof.

So many people worked to make HEMI what it is today – I give credit to Commissioner Hartmann, Rayma Waters, Greg Vehr, Annie Schellinger, Chris Bochenek and Tim Maloney from the Haile Foundation, Ron McSwain and many more – they turned my idea into reality. And the mentors and mentees – they are the real heroes behind HEMI’s success.

Just so it isn’t lost in all the hoopla, the program did have its first college graduate this year! Thank you Mariah Maxwell for persevering! You can see Mariah in the video, which was a total surprise to me, as was the $25,000 donation by the Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation. As I said, I am truly humbled and grateful.

 

 

Mass Adoption Ceremony Brings Smiles and Tears of Joy

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What a day!

Twelve children joined six families today in our Mass Adoption Ceremony. It was a tremendous day and every time Judge James Cissell proclaimed an adoption final and established a new family, the news was met with a great round of applause, plenty of smiles and even some tears of joy. 

The children were amazing. Some of them were so articulate and it really touched your heart when they described why they wanted to be adopted. I am humbled that our agency could play a part in making their dreams come true. 

Below, you will see links to some of the coverage of the event. I hope it touches you like it did me. And, if you are thinking of adopting, remember we still have about 200 children available for adoption. You can watch videos of many of them on our web site, http://www.hckids.org.

http://www.wcpo.com/news/local-news/12-foster-kids-receive-forever-homes-in-hamilton-county-mass-adoption-ceremony

http://www.wlwt.com/news/local-news/hamilton-county/county-celebrates-adoption-efforts-with-group-adoption-event/-/13550662/23107784/-/yqi80x/-/index.html

http://www.local12.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/toddler-steals-attention-at-mass-adoption-ceremony-4922.shtml

 

 

 

 

 

Adoption Ceremony May Put a Lump in Your Throat

I am getting excited about our upcoming mass adoption ceremony on Nov. 22. We hold it every year to celebrate National Adoption Day and it always results in an emotional validation of the work we do here at JFS.

When you work in the field of abused and neglected children, there are a lot of tough days. The thousands of children we work with each year have really sad stories behind them.

Nov. 22 is going to be a positive day — a day of celebration. Fifteen children will forever join seven families. Believe me when I tell you that what happens in that ceremony will put a smile on your face and, possibly, a lump in your throat.

I wrote about the ceremony in our latest edition of Update. You can read what I wrote at  http://www.hcjfs.hamilton-co.org/UpdateNew2013/November/Cover.htm

We are livestreaming the event. I hope you will join in the fun!

Touching Story Brings Home the Need for Adoptive Parents

This story seems to have touched a nerve around the nation. Even Oprah has tried to help the boy.

We have dozens of children whose stories are very similar. Young men or women who are quickly approaching 18 and life outside the child welfare system with no permanent home or family. They’re facing an uncertain future and they’re scared.

With National Adoption Month approaching, it is a good time to remind everyone that Hamilton County has nearly 200 children awaiting adoption. They’re all looking for someone willing to take a chance on them.

Some carry battle scars — sometimes physical, but most times emotional — from the tough lives that led them to our doorstep. Others are as normal as the children that roam your neighborhood. All of them have one thing in common: they want someone to wrap their arms around them and tell them they will love them forever.

Younger children are more likely to find a home. But our teenagers haven’t given up hope, just like the young man in the story I linked to. If you’ve been thinking about adoption, maybe that story will spur you to check out www.hckids.org and check out the photos, videos and stories of some of those teens.

You might not find the perfect child, but you might find the perfect child for you.