November 2005 - Hamilton County Job & Family Services

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ber 2005
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Since becoming assistant director in charge of Children’s Services last summer, Moira
Weir has spent a great deal of time charting a course for improvement.
“We recognize that a lot of good work is happening, but we need to get back to the basic
best practices – providing good services to children and families,” Weir said. “We need
to focus more on our core competencies. One goal of child welfare is permanency for
children with family, friends or through adoption. Foster care and PPLA (long-term
agency custody) are not permanency.”
Weir added: “It’s our obligation to move families through
our system safely and quickly with the best services at the
right cost. We need to improve our practice at each level.
We also need to more equitably and reasonably distribute
the workload.”
To achieve this vision, Children’s Services has begun a
“huge, gradual transition,” Weir said.
RT units disbanded, moved
The process began with disbanding
the Residential Treatment section.
The RT units have since been
transferred to Children’s Services’
Ongoing units.
Aiesha Walker has transferred into Children’s Services from Child
Support Enforcement. She will lead one of the Ongoing sections in
Children’s Services.
Disbanding the RT section and transitioning these units to the
Ongoing sections is an enormous undertaking, but will eventually
move the agency to a point that each family has one worker. This
will provide better service delivery and achieve permanency for
our families.
“Some families had two different workers – Ongoing and Residen
tial Treatment. Some did not,” said Weir. “By integrating Residen
tial Treatment, we will achieve one worker for one family – and
that fits into best social work practice.”
Weir noted that the Clinical Section led by Colleen Gerwe will help
guide Children’s Services in this quest for best practice. Ultimately,
striving to implement best practices will help the agency achieve a
central goal of the Consent Decree and Corrective Action Resolu
tion Plan (CARP): moving kids to permanency (reunification with
birth families, termination of parental rights, or the like) in a timely fashion, Weir added.
New ‘Permanency’ section
To that end, a new Permanency section has been established. Mary Eck leads the section,
which includes several Adoptions units. Sara Harperink brought case management skills
to the section when she transferred from the old Residential Treatment section to lead an
A look at what’s news at
Hamilton County Dept. of
Job and Family Services
is a publication of HCJFS Communications
Children’s Services goes back to the basics
pg 8
What’s Inside...
Children’s Services changes 1
National Adoption Month 2
Factoid: Adoption 2
Billboards spotlight elder abuse 3
Child Support plan wins
‘Best Practice’ 4
Fact Sheet Focus: Adoption
dditional $$ help with
winter heat bills
HCJFS Success Story 6
Katrina Project helps evacuees 7
Mt. Airy grants renewed 7
Concurrent Planning begins 8
Call a HCJFS speaker 8
HCJFS Update
Visit our Web site at
ovember is National Adoption Month -- a time to focus attention on the boys and girls in the child welfare system
waiting for adoption. More than 200 Hamilton County children are available for adoption at any given time.
This year’s national theme, “Answering the Call”, highlights the more than 119,000 children in foster care nationwide
who are waiting for permanent families.
HCJFS is again teaming with the Tri-State Adoption Coalition to
place photos of children available for adoption on trayliners at 48 area
Wendy’s restaurants. About 230,000 will be distributed in Hamilton
County, Northern Kentucky and Southwest Indiana.
Photos of children waiting for adoption also will appear in programs at
the Aronoff Center for the Arts in November.
Other activities to highlight adoption include:

a booth at the Tri-State Adoption Fair and
● a guest appearance by Recruitment Manager Denise Winkler on WCIN (1480 AM) on
November 6
● ads on several radio stations, in Cincinnati Family Magazine, and on Web pages and Cable TV
public access channels.
HCJFS will also hold its annual Adoption and Foster Care Appreciation Banquet on November
19th. Warm 98’s Bobbi Maxwell will emcee the event at the Sharonville Convention Center.
For more information about adoption, please visit

or call (513) 632-6366
National Adoption Month: “Answering the Call”
The number of children waiting for adoption changes continually, but a
snapshot of one day shows the typical pattern.
On October 28, 2005, HCJFS had 303 foster children available for
adoption. Of these, 219 were waiting for homes, 44 were matched with
potential families and 40 were placed in adoptive homes, but the adoptions
had not been finalized.
Of the 219 waiting children, 57% were boys and 43% were girls. Their
average age was 12.
Adoption Factoid:
Did You know...?
ber 2005
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As part of the agency’s Elder Abuse Awareness
Campaign, billboards will be up during the next three
months at these locations:
(1) Warsaw and Purcell Avenues
(2) Sunset and Queen City Avenues
(3) Anthony Wayne Avenue at Galbraith Road
(4) Vine Street at Clifton Avenue
(5) 13th and Main Streets
(6) Burnet and Northern Avenues
(7) Colerain Avenue and Lambston Street
(8) Madison and Kenwood Roads
Billboards turn spotlight on elder abuse
(9) Spring Grove Avenue and Arlington Street
(10) Montgomery Road and Lawndale Avenue.
The billboards urge viewers to call 421-LIFE, the 24-
hour elder abuse and neglect reporting line operated
For more information about elder abuse and how
Hamilton County responds to it, please visit
or call (513) 946-2189 and ask for our new
elder abuse brochure.
HCJFS Update
Visit our Web site at
ust the facts, ma’am.

And more.
HCJFS has been selected for a Best Practice Award for its Fact Sheet
Update and Promotion Plan.
The award was presented October 24 at the
Ohio Family Support Association/ Ohio CSEA Directors Association
(OFSA/OCDA) Fall Conference.
“One of the things the selection committee really liked about the
Fact Sheet Update and Promotion Plan was that for the different
subject areas you had separate fact sheets for custodial and non-
custodial parents,”
said Rob Pierson, chairperson, OFSA Best
Practice Committee.
“Also the quality and professionalism of the fact sheets, as well
as the information issued via the fact sheets, were excellent. We
really did not have any negatives regarding the fact sheets. Great
idea and well implemented!”
John Cummings of HCJFS Communications spent a great deal of time updating and promoting all
agency fact sheets with the help of a content review team. Monica Kuhlman lent her expertise on
the Child Support fact sheets.
The fact sheets can be found at
. Click on “Clients” then view lists under each
program area.
Child Support fact sheet update and promotion
plan wins
“Best Practice”
ber 2005
Visit our Web site at
This is the first in a periodic series taking a look at information available to providers and customers via the HCJFS website. We
encourage you and your customers to explore the fact sheets.
Fact Sheet Title: Adoption
Target Audi
ence: Individuals interested in learning more about the adoption
How it help
s: Using a Question & Answer
format, the fact sheet helps
uncover answers to the main questions about adopting
children in county custody
Where to find it online: 1. Go to
2. Click on “Clients”
3. Click on “Children’s Services”
4. Scroll down to a listing of fact sheets, then click on
“Adoption”. A printable PDF file of the fact sheet
will open in a separate window.
Fact Sheet Focus: Adoption
n circu
mstances are such that a chi
ld can
not or should n
ot be returne
d to his or her p
arents, the law
allows a juve
nile court to grant pe
nt custo
dy to a publi
c children’sservi
s agen
cy suchas
nty Departm
nt of Job and
Family Se
rvices (HCJFS
). The age
ncywill then pu
rsue an
adoptive pla
cement for the
Children’s Service
s, a division of HCJFS
, recruits and prepares a
ptive parent
s, pairs the
m with
children, and provide
s serv
s that help
them raise
their ne
w family members. T
his fact sheet
has been
prepared to a
nswer m
any of your que
stions about ad
For more information about becoming an adoptive parent, visit
or call
(513) 632-6366.
Who are the children
aiting to be adopted?
Children in th
e perm
anent custody of HCJFS
may come int
o the agen
s care un
der many
circumstances, but all sha
re a need for
Many have lived turbul
ent lives in home
s where
drug a
se, d
c viole
nce and/or m
health trou
s put them at high ri
sk of abuse
and negle
ct. Many may ha
ve lived in se
fostercare homes, or p
erhaps they ha
d been
placed with relatives. Som
e may also h
experienced failed attempt
s at reu
nification with
their parent
What is the need for
adoptive parents?
Children’s Services
s adoptive
parents, especially those willing to take older
children a
ndsiblings. Mo
st children avail
able for
adoption ran
e in age from
7 to 16 years.
How can I find out about the children
available for adoption?
After HCJFS gain
s custody of a child his
or he
availability is publi
cized sta
tewide via the
Adoption Pho
to Listing, ma
intained by th
e Ohio
artment of Job and F
amily Services
(ODJFS). ODJFS also keeps a list of all families
approved for
adoption and
utes it to publi
and private adoption n
etworks. In additi
on to the
adoption phot
o listing, HCJFS lists chil
available for
adoption online at
and on vide
otape. You ca
n obtain a co
y by
calling (51
)632-6366 or by visiting the Public
ry of Cin
ati and Hamilton Co
How can I become an adoptive
A potential ad
optive pare
nt must und
physical exa
ms, credit rev
iews and p
cks. Child
ren’s Service
s also obtain
information from refe
s and em
g screeni
ng or p
logical testing
also b
e req
uired.In addition, Childre
n’s Service
s conducts a
home stu
dy to determi
ne if people h
ave the
skills to be
come parents to
children com
ing from
the publi
c chil
d prote
ction system. This i
everal interv
iews in the home with the
spective p
arents, child
ren and oth
household m
embers. Interv
iewers will delve into
s and loo
k at h
ow the pote
adoptive pa
rents deal
with cri
s and, if marri
spousal conflicts.
Potential adoptive parent
s must also attend 33
hours of traini
ng on a variet
y of topics including:
g the adoptio
n pro
ess a
nd child
ction sy
�Parenting childrenwith sp
cial ne
eds, and
�Helping children deal
with separation fro
natural p
Can foster parents adopt?
Yes. In fact, 70 percent of p
ublic adoptions in
nty originated
as foste
r care
placements. Some ado
ptive pare
nts become
foster p
arents with the intent to adopt if the chil
s ava
ilable for ad
ption in the future, or
foster p
arents simply beco
me attache
d to the
Children’s Services Fact Sheet
55(REV. 8-0
Page 1 of 2
For more fact sheets, visit our website at
Click on the link for the HEAP Application in English:
Click on the link for the HEAP Application in Spanish:
Additional $$ will help low-income Ohioans with winter heat bills
With the cost of heating our homes expected to soar this winter, there’s been growing concern about the ability of Ohio’s low-
income residents to handle big increases.
But more help is available. Governor Taft announced last month an additional $75 million would be available to the Home
Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) to help cover bills for some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens. The added funding is on
top of the $100 million earmarked earlier.
Along with the additional funding, income eligibility has also been increased from 151 percent to 175 percent of the poverty
level. This means about 400,000 households will receive help with heating bills this year. The average benefit is expected to be
just over $390.

Call HEAP toll-free at 1-800-282-0880

TDD 1-800-868-1557
HCJFS Update
Visit our Web site at
Couple raises hope from a tragic beginning
Little Ray sat in his big plastic jeep and stepped on the gas. With
a “vroom,” the car jumped to life. Little Ray startled and snatched
his foot from the pedal. His dad, also named Ray, couldn’t help
“It’s OK, buddy, it’s OK, “ he said, and then, turning to a visitor,
“I taught him that. He’s figuring it out.”
Ray’s toy jeep takes up half the kitchen in the small, tidy home
in Deer Park, but it was an indulgence his parents couldn’t resist.
For all the misfortune he has suffered in his young life, Ray has
gained one big advantage: new parents who really love him.
In August, through the Hamilton County Department of Job and
Family Services, Ray and Christina Hatter finalized the adoption
of the child they call Little Ray. They had been caring for him for
years, through the frightening hospitalizations, the surgeries, the
therapies, the set-backs and the breakthroughs.
Ray, age four, is biologically the Hatters’ nephew. He was
born, prematurely and crack-positive, to Christina’s sister who,
according to Christina, is a long-time drug-abuser who has given
up several children for adoption.
Christina knew even before Ray was born that she wanted to
adopt him and the sight of him in the hospital’s neonatal intensive
care unit didn’t deter her. Ray wasn’t so sure.
“He looked bad,” Ray said. “I just didn’t know if I could do it.
But Christina was set on it. He was family.”
Soon after taking Ray into their home, the Hatters found
themselves nearly overwhelmed by his medical problems. He had
fetal alcohol syndrome, scoliosis, heart and vision problems, and
a spinal condition that affected his bladder and left him unable to
stand upright.
“It’s very emotional, it’s nerve-wracking to know what my sister
has done,” Christina said.
“I put a wall against that,” Ray added. “Ray is living through it.
He’s strong. He’s surviving and we got him.”
While her husband works as a plumber, Christina takes care of
their son and handles all the medical appointments and therapies.
Ray is enrolled now in Frederick Breyer School, which is
operated by the Hamilton County Board of Mental Retardation
and Developmental Disabilities. Recent surgery corrected his
“tethered spine” so he can now stand and move more naturally.
Surgery for the scoliosis is still ahead.
Ray built a swing set for his son and created a little ritual for
them to wash hands together when he gets home from work.
Christina likes to put on music so Little Ray will dance with her
and she’s taught him some sign language. He sits on her knees
and taps his fingers into his palm to show that he wants a bouncy
“They are doing an awesome job with Ray,” said the Hatters’
adoption caseworker, Maryann Moore. “Honestly, if he was in
foster care, it would be hard to place him adoptively because of
all his health issues.”
Married in 1998, the Hatters, both 42, have grown children from
earlier marriages. They’ve been through some rough times with
their families, they said, and Ray is something of a redemption.
“The doctors call it ‘discomfort,’ but the child goes through so
much pain, you wouldn’t believe,” Ray said. “Most of the time,
he is a lot of fun. He makes me laugh.”
“I have moments when I feel broken down and exhausted,”
Christina added. “But I feel like I’m blessed when I see the
progress he’s made. You know you’ve done something for him.”
HCJFS Success Story
Little Ray (center) with parents Ray and Christina Hatter
ber 2005
Visit our Web site at
Mt. Airy Center grants renewed
The Mt. Airy Center for Homeless Men, a federally- and
county-funded agency providing emergency shelter and
social services, will continue to receive funding from the U.S.
Department of Housing & Urban Development.
Center Administrator Bill Darnell said he has received word
that HUD has approved funding for 2006 and 2007. The Center
will receive $122,209 each of the two years.
“That’s a good part of our annual budget,” Darnell said. “We’re
glad to know that piece will be there.”
Darnell said the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD)
has extended this year’s funding through December, and is still
considering Mt. Airy’s application for funding for 2006 and
2007. If approved, that will add another $127,000 of funding
each of the two years.
Mt. Airy operates on grants totaling about $500,000 annually,
said Darnell. That funding covers operating costs including
food and toiletries for as many as 65 men each day.
Additional dollars are anticipated from the Hamilton County
Department of Community Development and the Department
of Veterans Affairs.
For more information about Mt. Airy Center, follow this link to
the fact sheet on our web site
or visit

, click on Clients, then Adult Services,
and scroll down to the fact sheet “Mt. Airy Center for
Homeless Men.”
Kelley Dragoo and Anne Lieb
HCJFS staff assists more than 640
Katrina evacuees
Staff assistance also
reaches south, as two go to stricken Mobile, Alabama
Kelly Draggoo remembers the first time that some Hurricane
Katrina evacuees sat down in her office, looking for help to get
back on their feet.
“Their faces shared a distinct look - sort of a worn out, tired
look,” the HCJFS Quality Review Specialist said. “You just
knew they had nowhere else to turn.”
It was the same for hundreds of others from the hurricane
ravaged region, too. According to agency statistics, 644
individuals – including 201 children – received $276,000
in food stamps, cash and medical assistance since the first
evacuees began coming through Hamilton County Job and
Family Services.
The count of individuals the Katrina Project team has helped is
being tallied as special rules set up to expedite assistance come
to an end. Cases that remain open and come up for review to
continue benefits must now follow regular protocols.
Many cases are now closing as evacuees return south, Draggoo
said, noting that being there to listen and help in some
way brought with it a great feeling that she’s been part of
something good.
“Most of the folks who came here, you just knew they really
didn’t want to be asking for help,” Draggoo said. “That’s why
it was so great to do it – you wanted to help them because they
wanted to help themselves.”
Draggoo and Policy Help Desk Supervisor Anne Lieb also
answered the call for help in the hurricane-ravaged region.
They joined 270 interviewers who worked in Louisiana,
Mississippi and Alabama to assist thousands with assistance
applications. Draggoo and Lieb spent their time working in
Mobile, Alabama.
In all, 45 HCJFS staff provided time and talents to the Katrina
Project team.
HCJFS Update
Visit our Web site at
Have questions about a program or
service at HCJFS? Invite a speaker!
Do your customers have questions about applying for Cash
Are customers wondering how they can find help with child
care during their work hours?
Do you need more information about child support services to
help a customer?
The HCJFS Speakers’ Bureau can find a speaker for your
group or organization to help answer these question and many
And the process to get the ball rolling is easy!
Just call Kathy Pflum at 946-2189, and ask about booking a
speaker. Kathy will need to know some basic information such
● the time, date and location for the meeting or presentation
● the topic your group would like to cover
● the size of your group
● who the group is (nurses, attorneys, teachers, etc.)
● what your group hopes to learn from your speaker
And just as you will learn something from your speaker,
HCJFS wants to learn from you. We’ll ask you to evaluate the
presentation and speaker - let us know what you liked, what
you didn’t, whether the handouts were helpful, and whether
you learned what you thought you would learn.
We look forward to hearing from you SOON!
Adoptions unit.
Kevin Holt continues to manage Utilization Management/Utiliza
tion Review in addition to Foster Care in a newly named Care
Management section. Foster Care had been in a section with
“We need to have all children in TPR (Terminated Parental
Rights) status in the Adoption section,” Weir said. “One entire
unit, previously housed in RT, has transferred to the Adoption
section. The change will assist the Adoption section chief to over
see all adoption functions for each child in TPR status as it relates
to CARP and the Consent Decree. And Foster Care needs to be
separated from Adoptions. Foster Care is not permanency.”
New ‘front door’ with Intake
Meanwhile, at the front door to the child protection system,
Intake was reorganized to give section chiefs a more reasonable
number of direct reports and clearer responsibility.
Tim Stolitca assumed responsibility for 241-KIDS day and night,
the Out-of-Home Care Unit, custody investigations, the Sex
Abuse Unit, and a partnership with the Mayerson Center for Safe
Children at Children’s Hospital. Out-of-Home moved from Qual
ity Assurance to Children’s Services to increase the emphasis on
safety and risk. Traci Marr now leads all assessment/investigation
“I want to work with the section chiefs to make the workers’ jobs
more manageable,” said Weir, who has served as a Children’s
Services worker, supervisor and section chief. “Our number of
cases is decreasing. We need to make the job more reasonable
and the workload more equitable and focus on the tasks at hand.
This will help us fulfill our obligation of moving families through
our system safely and quickly with the best services at the right
All Children’s Services workers and supervisors this fall are
learning a lot more about having a “Plan B” for children in
agency custody.
From September through December, they’re getting trained
about “concurrent case planning.”
Basically, this means working towards reunifying the child with
their family while, at the same time, developing an alternative
permanent plan.
The federal Adoption Safe Families Act of 1997 and Ohio’s 484
law both support this effort as they each restrict the length of time
a child can spend in custody.
“This is about keeping a child safe and finding her or him a
permanent home,” Children’s Services Section Chief Colleen
Gerwe said. “A month in the life of a 2-year-old is a very long
time as opposed to that of an adult.”
In response to the legislation, Children’s Services workgroups
developed new policies and protocols concerning the safety and
permanency (concurrent case planning) of a child.
Children’s Services begins ‘Concurrent Planning’