PORTSMOUTH- There’s change happening in the way children’s services operates in Scioto County.
“It’s like we’re moving a mountain one rock at a time,” said Scioto County Department of Job and Family Services Executive Director Tammy Moore Morton.
One such change is a memorandum of understanding that is being developed by DJFS, local law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges.
“Once implemented, it will serve as a road map for how cases are to be processed giving operational clarity to all the parties involved,” Morton said. It is being drafted and is expected to be implemented later this year. It will clarify the processes followed for removals and will see all parties involved communicating prior to the removal of a child from a home.
There are currently 352 Scioto County children in the care of Scioto County Department of Job and Family Services, according to a report by the agency’s head.
“That’s consistent with where it’s been since the first of the year,” Executive Director Tammy Moore Morton said at the meeting of the Scioto County Commissioners April 20.
Morton reported placement costs rose slightly from $620,000 in January to $623,000 in March.
“(There is) a similar number of kids in care, but what we’re finding is the congregant settings are renegotiating their contracts,” she said.
The trend for removals headed downward in the first quarter of 2023. In January, the county saw 12 removals involving 22 children, February saw eight removals involving 10 children, and March saw four removals involving five children.
“That trend, I’m hoping, stays and we continue to go down,” Morton said.
She also reported an increase in the number of sexual abuse reports to the agency since the beginning of the year. In January, 20 reports were made while March saw that number more than doubling to 45. Reports could also include multiple children.
“That’s just alarming,” she said. “That’s an alarming increase.”