Commissioners approve $2 million request from Children Services

By Darian Gillette - [email protected]

PORTSMOUTH — Scioto County Commissioners approved up to $2 million to go toward Scioto County Children Protective Services (CPS).

During a lengthy Scioto County Commissioners meeting Thursday, the Commissioners discussed with CPS board members their need for 2 million dollars.

“We’re in a crisis and I think it’s fair to say that,” said Commissioner Scottie Powell. “I also want people to understand it’s not the fault of the board, it’s not the fault of CPS when we are talking about doubling our population in the span of two years.”

Powell said the growing population has the potential to break a system.

“We’re asking for 2 million projected, but it could be more if the number of kids goes up, quite honestly,” said Powell. “If we are successful in our efforts and hopefully, we are that number could be lower.”

John Howard, Director of Finance for Children’s Service, said CPS started in 2021 with a 1.4 million carry over.

“As the year progressed the kids in custody went up, kids in custody will cost the taxpayers approximately $10,000 a year if they are in our foster care, if they go outside they are at minimum $20,000,” said Howard. “Some of these kids have issues and need extra help so that dollar amount goes higher.”

Howard said the number of children has gone from 200 to 400 causing the need for more funds.

“Our carry-over during 2021 was depleted by the end of the year so there was no money,” said Howard. “The board has looked closely at cost saving efforts.”

Howard said there is a great possibility they will need $2 million.

“At the end of the year I think it would make all of us happy if we didn’t need $2 million but since there’s a possibility, we had a discussion with the board,” said Howard. “To be sustainable we are going to have to do something besides coming down to the commissioners and asking for $2 million.”

Howard said at some point a levy will be requested.

“There’s not really any other option if these numbers stay the same there just is no money to handle it,” said Howard. “The only other option would be to do what some counties may do and it’s to not be aggressive when it comes to removing kids when they need to be removed and I don’t think anyone in this room thinks ‘Oh that’s a good option, let’s just send kids back to places where they don’t belong.”

Howard said they would like to continue at the rate of removals they are currently at.

Powell said the long-term goal is to utilize the 12 out of 22 months.

“Basically, if a kid has been in care for 12 out of 22 months we can go for permanency then go for possibly adoption,” said Powell. “If we could get 100 kids adopted it could save a little over a million a year.”

Director, Jason Mantell, said the pandemic has slowed adoptions.

“There have been about 15 in 18 months, so we are a little short of one a month,” said Mantell.

Commissioner Bryan Davis said the county is in need of more foster families.

“Two years ago we had 26 and now we have 24 so we’ve went backward,” said Davis. “It’s very hard to increase foster parents, especially during a pandemic because everyone was worried about finances and everything else.”

Davis said the state of Ohio is not funding children the way they should be.

“Representative Baldridge and Senator Johnson are on our team, they’re fully aware of our problems and they want to help but they also have all these other people they work with in Columbus and there’s a lot of people who don’t think there is a problem,” said Davis.

Davis said the state of Ohio ranks 50th in children’s initiatives.

“Without additional funding, it’s going to fall at a local level, and I said three years ago if we don’t get this opioid epidemic and the fallout from it under control it will bankrupt the county and here we are, it’s the beginning of that,” said Davis.

Davis feels this is an opportunity for improvement.

“We can’t control whether people will foster or adopt, we cannot control that there are people out there not taking care of their kids, and a lot of what we are dealing with is a tentacle of the opioid epidemic in our community and unfortunately because of that we have a lot of parents that have become dependent,” said Davis.

Davis said the real question is will everyone take responsibility.

“It’s easy to sit back and be an armchair quarterback and say ‘I didn’t cause it, it’s not my problem so why should I help pay for it?’, said Davis. “I’m sure there are a lot of families out there that don’t have an addicted child or family member but there are a lot of families that can say that and are going through it right now and are hurting.”

Davis said it will take a lot to mitigate the problems but does believe it is possible.

Later in the meeting, Powell asked the board if they would be opposed to an advisory situation. After discussing the advisory situation there was no decision made for the time being.

The Commissioners approved a resolution for up to $2 million with an immediate $730,000 to get through February which would cover bills back through December.

The Commissioners approved the request of $2 million taken out of the ARPA funds.

By Darian Gillette

[email protected]

Reach Darian Gillette at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931, or by email at [email protected]

© 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

Reach Darian Gillette at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931, or by email at [email protected]

© 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved