Thanksgiving Hours

Please remember our office is not only closed on Thanksgiving Day, but also the day after. If you have business to conduct, we are open during normal business hours today and tomorrow.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends. I have much to be thankful for, not only this time of year, but all year. Every day on this job exposes me to a number of people whose lives have been turned upside down in some way, perhaps through the ugliness of child abuse or the randomness of a job layoff. It puts life into perspective.

 

Advertisement

Mass Adoption Ceremony Brings Smiles and Tears of Joy

Image

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

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Great Stories Coming Out of JFS

I hope you are following us on Facebook, Or Twitter. Or receiving our electronic newsletter.  If so, you get to read some of the great stories that come out of our agency,

I especially liked these two from the past week:

http://www.hcjfs.hamilton-co.org/UpdateNew2013/October/Story3.htm

http://www.hcjfs.hamilton-co.org/UpdateNew2013/October/Story1.htm

One is a story of a family that came together under impossible circumstances. Look at the smile on that young boy’s face!

The other tells of the great work a couple of our employees did on behalf of a consumer who was not receiving her child support.

Stories like these keep me going during trying times. I know we help so many people out there — about a half million a year in some way or another!  These stories don’t make the news, but they are very representative of the work we do.

To make sure you stay up on great stories like these, visit our website, www.hcjfs.org, and sign up for our newsletter. Also, like us on Facebook at Hamilton County (Ohio) Department of Job and Family Services or follow us on Twitter @HamiltonCoJFS

Change Coming to Food Assistance Program

I would like to get back to posting regularly and keeping everyone up on all that is happening here at Hamilton County Job and Family Services. Please accept my apologies for falling off over the past few months.

One of the biggest things happening in the next few months is a change in our food assistance program. You can read more about that here. We expect this to impact about 18,000 in Hamilton County – folks who receive food assistance, but have no children. They will now be under work requirements that had previously been waived because of the state’s high unemployment rates.

It is important to note these requirements were in place before the economic downturn, so this is not new to us. And, I believe, most who receive food assistance are already working or performing some type of duty to meet the work requirement.

Still, these changes will make it clear what is required and those who do not comply will leave the rolls in January. We have set up a system to help transition those who have not been working. If you fall into this category, please check with your caseworker or visit the SuperJobs Center for assistance.

Mariah Maxwell is First HEMI Graduate

Earlier this week the Enquirer published a wonderful column about Mariah Maxwell, the first HEMI graduate to earn a degree.

We could not be more proud of Mariah! Like many of our foster students, she has faced more obstacles than the average youth and managed to overcome them.

Now, she will be graduating college with two degrees earned in three years and plans to attend the graduate school of Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati.

Unfortunately, Mariah’s story is still uncommon. Nationally, only 3 percent of children in foster care go on to graduate college. For many foster children, when they age out of foster care at 18, they have little to no support. Most are forced to be self-sufficient at an extremely young age, often without access to housing, employment or basic life skills.

In 2009, Commissioner Greg Hartmann assembled a partnership between Hamilton County, Job and Family Services, the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati State and Great Oaks to address this need and HEMI was formed.

Mentors commit to at least two hours of personal interaction each week and once a month, attend a HEMI activity. The most effective mentors are able to engage in a relationship based on trust and understanding.

When we started, it was with the idea that a conversation about higher education could make a significant difference in foster children’s lives.

Now, HEMI has grown to incorporate multiple partnerships that provide clothing, resume advice and in some cases, even housing or mental health opportunities to our former foster kids.

But the most important part about HEMI remains the mentors.

One line in particular of the Enquirer’s story struck me: “My going into foster care opened up a lot of doors. Without it, I wouldn’t have met (my mentor) Kate Livingston or my foster mother, Sheeila Foster – they pushed me, and encouraged me to finish school,” Mariah said.

That is what HEMI is all about, turning what can be seen as an obstacle – foster care – into an opportunity.

For Mariah, HEMI made a difference.

Unfortunately, there are many more foster students in Hamilton County that face similar hardships. This summer HEMI will be recruiting mentors ready to make a commitment to guiding these students. Individuals interested in long-term mentoring should contact HEMIat hemimentors@uc.edu or visit www.hemimentors.org for more information.

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!

http://www.hcjfs.hamilton-co.org/UpdateNew2013/February/Cover.htm

Haile Foundation Goes Above and Beyond for JFS

We have many partnerships in our community with organizations and other government entities that are doing similar work and trying to achieve similar goals. The bottom line is we can achieve more when we work together.

But we have a special relationship with The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Jr. Foundation. The Haile Foundation truly believes in our work and helping the people we serve, so the folks running the foundation go above and beyond when it comes to helping us out. I sometimes feel like we are the Haile Foundation’s adopted child — Tim and Leslie Maloney and Christine Bochenek answer the call any time we reach out to them.

The Haile Foundation currently funds several interns who perform work that helps take the pressure off of our staff. It also has provided gifts to graduating foster children or adoptive families in the past, including tickets to Playhouse in the Park.

And now the Foundation is bringing country singer Jimmy Wayne to town to speak to our staff, providers, partners and foster children about how a “foster” family saved his life and set him on the path to success. His story is touching and inspirational and I am glad the people who work in the field and the children who are traveling similar paths will have the chance to hear it.

Tim, Leslie and Chris are extremely good to our organization and make life easier for the people we serve. These are the kinds of parterships that work. We cannot achieve our mission without the support of the community.

Thank you Haile Foundation!

Hamilton County Child Welfare Partnerships to be Highlighted

I am very honored to be asked to speak at The Georgetown Public Policy Institute’s Leadership, Evidence, Analysis, Debate (LEAD) Conference on Jan. 25. The subject is policy and collaboration in child welfare.

My presentation will focus on several partnerships we have that result in better outcomes for foster children, including the Crossover Youth Project, Journey, HOPE, Kids in School Rule and more.

We have tremendous partnerships that produce wonderful results for foster children. This speaks well of the cooperation and creativity of child-serving agencies in Hamilton County. They share in this honor and I will be sure to highlight their contributions to that success.

421-LIFE Number to Call for Elder Protection

We handled nearly 500 cases in our Adult Protective Services unit in 2012.

It is a small number, when you think about the large amount of people who live in Hamilton County. One of the reasons is that the abuse and exploitation of senior citizens often goes unreported.

They are often embarrassed when they fall victim to a scam or when a family member abuses or takes advantage of them. Or, they are in the beginning stages of dementia and unable to protect themselves. Finally, they are often isolated without much outside contact, so it is easy for it to be covered up, missed or ignored.

More than half of the cases we handle actually don’t involve abuse or exploitation, but rather self neglect. It is beyond sad when someone is unable to care for themselves and unable or unwilling to reach out for help. We work hard to ensure they get the care they need and are able to live with dignity.

We will investigate any specific allegation of someone who is suffering from the infirmities of aging and falling victim to themselves or another. If you know of someone in need, call our 421-LIFE hotline. We should all look out for our elderly family members and neighbors.