Children Services releases Administrative Action Plan

By Hope R. Comer | PDT

An Administrative Action Plan has been authorized by Scioto County Children Services board for Lowell Howard, Acting Director of SCCS to carry out.

According to Howard this should not be confused with the corrective action plan that is being developed with the ODJFS (Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services).

“The plan being developed with ODJFS will be submitted and must be reviewed and accepted by the ODJFS,” Howard stated.

Howard is to meet with ODJFS concerning the Child Fatality Administrative Review to present the agency’s first draft of the correction action plan which will be discussed and reviewed. This plan will be implemented immediately upon approval. He has been in contact with the ODJFS and will be requesting a periodical review of the agency to meet all compliant standards on an on-going basis.

“The action plan is a good start,” said Scioto County Commissioner Bryan Davis. “We understand Mr. Howard is just starting his tenure and he needs time to evaluate and consider changes to current operations. For now, we will watch and see how these and other proposed changes impact the culture and operations at SCCS. “

Additionally, the SCCS board wanted to see five other areas addressed and steps put into place. Those included coordinating agencies, personnel/staffing, operating procedures, grants/additional funding, and policy.

Howard will establish lines of communication, as well as gather information concerning the current communications and operational procedures with coordinating agencies. Currently, he has met with the Juvenile Court Judge, all County Commissioners, the County Prosecutor, representatives of Southern Ohio Medical Center, and Scioto County educators.

“The meetings with the coordinating agencies currently have been to establish areas to address concerns,” Howard said.

The plan states Howard is to report back those to the Children’s Services Board. As well as, attempt to establish coordination and permanent lines of communication with all agencies, to facilitate a better working relationship in reference to operational procedures for the future. Additional meetings are scheduled, or are in the process of being scheduled, with the Scioto County Superintendents, Director of the Scioto County Department of Job and Family Services, and the Law Enforcement Agencies of Scioto County.

A review of staffing needs within the agency is required by the action plan. The number of personnel needed is determined by the case load of the individual worker. Two workers will begin employment on November 4, 2019, for replacement of workers who have discontinued employment. The board has approved two additional case workers for employment, and currently resumes are being reviewed to enable the agency to set interviews and offer employment.

The SCCS board is appointed at the discretion of the Scioto County Commissioners. Currently, the agency has a board of 10 members with Scott Holstein being appointed October 24. Holstein has been the Assistant Superintendent of the South Central Ohio Educational Service Center since January of 2015.

The agency has 20 employees; Howard reports to the board and has a Fiscal Agent with assistants, two supervisors and social workers.

“Since January 1, 2019 there has been 6 workers that have left the Agency and one board member,” Howard said. “We have replaced five of these workers to date.”

The current caseload for social workers is high and the board is moving to facilitate a reduction in caseload numbers. Howard will conduct a salary survey of child services agencies in the surrounding area for further review.

As written in the plan, through numerous discussions with coordinating agencies, it become apparent that standard operating procedures vary greatly. It is evident, according to the board, that these differences must be resolved in order to establish consistent guidelines to complete the necessary tasks. The SCCS goal is to establish a working relationship through committees, composed of the coordinating agencies, to provide common operational procedures that will be acceptable to all entities.

The board found that the vast majority of all funding for SCCS is from three sources:

  • local tax levy
  • state funding
  • federal funding

SCCS will begin to review all areas for additional funding through grants or other available programs. Additionally, the SCCS policy manual is to be reviewed, updated and reviewed on an annual basis.

By Hope R. Comer | PDT