SCIOTO — Commissioners fielded questions about Scioto County Children Services and shared their thoughts on what could be done better to help the agency and the children it serves.
On Thursday, newly elected Commissioner Chair Scottie Powell answered questions from concerned residents about funding and building a children’s home. Residents particularly pointed out that they did not understand why rehab faculties could be built but not a children’s home.
“Please know the county is not in the rehab business. We don’t have any rehabs. We haven’t funded any rehabs. That’s a business we are not into,” Powell said. “Part of the funding mechanism for rehabs is through the state level, the Medicaid system, so that’s nothing we have control of.”
Powell shared the commissioners are not allowed to give money to rehabs or take money from rehabs and funnel it into Children Services.
“Until Columbus finds a way to quit spending money on the people that are using and start spending money on the people who are affected, we are going to continue the problems that we have,” Powell said.
Questions about CPS have arisen again for the county after it was announced an 18-month-old died while in the care of Scioto County Children Services. According to a press release from the Scioto County Sheriff’s Department, the investigation revealed that the infant was in the custody of Scioto County Children’s Services and had been placed into a kinship placement. The biological mother had been receiving overnight visitation. The 18-month -old female was taken to Southern Ohio Medical Center, where she later was pronounced deceased.
“I hear the concern, I hear the question and we get it,” Powell said. “Reach out to our local representatives and senator. If you want to see a change in those funding models, that’s where it starts.”
Commissioner Bryan Davis also commented on the situation and the concern for a children’s home in Scioto County.
“The bottom line is, everyone needs to understand children’s homes, in general, are frowned upon by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services,” Davis said. “If we were to build one, it takes 18 months to get any licensure, if we were to get it. There are only four in the state of Ohio, with one in Adams County. I can tell you if they turned the lights out tomorrow, they would never let them reopen.”
Davis shared during the meeting, there are 385 children in the custody of CPS and that the juvenile court was very aggressive about removing children from dangerous situations.
“We have Cleveland numbers. Our numbers are equivalent to the City of Cleveland in Scioto County,” Davis said. “If you look at the surrounding counties, you don’t see these numbers. One thing you need to look at is it’s not necessarily because of our population, but our courts and CPS are in the know. They are very aggressive on this.”
Davis shared that building a children’s home would cost around $11 to $12 million. The home would also require an operating levy that would cost about $3 million.
“I’m not sure if the taxpayers in Scioto County are prepared to do that,” Davis said. “We need to have a serious conversation with our public, with our citizens whether or not they would actually support such a thing, and on top of that, the State of Ohio supports us.”
Commissioner Cathy Coleman also spoke about CPS and encouraged residents to have patience with the agency and the investigation into the death.
“When we talk about nearly 400 children being placed in foster care, we have looked at that in a way as “this is terrible almost 400 hundred children,” Coleman said. “But as this director explained to us, that should tell the community how much we are doing. We have taken nearly 400 children out of harm’s way and placed them in homes the best we could.”
Davis also commented on having patience for the investigation and encouraged residents to reach out to their representatives and senators to help them move legislation along in the general assembly.
Our senator and representatives agree with us,” Davis said. “The problem is this. They have to go to Columbus and convince the general assembly to do something. The reason we ask for you to write them is so they can pull out emails and pull out letters to help argue their points. If we are silent, no one will believe it’s a problem, but if we are loud, they will.”
The next Scioto County Commissioners meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 20, at 9:30 a.m. at the Scioto County Courthouse.
Reach Adam Black at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1927, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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