Commissioners push for CPS board restructure

By Darian Gillette - [email protected]

PORTSMOUTH — The Scioto County Commissioners discussed their letter to restructure the Children’s Protective Services (CPS) Board at their meeting Thursday.

“Essentially what this letter would do is restructure the board, not eliminate or resolve, but restructure the board, shifting the financial and operational responsibility directly under the Commissioners and living under JFS,” said Commissioner, Scottie Powell.

Commissioner, Cathy Coleman said when it is all said and done, it is about the children.

“They have no voice, they are put in situations they have no control over, and the bottom line is the welfare of our children,” said Coleman. “I come from a world of 42 years and a business atmosphere and one thing my husband once told me, who was a previous commissioner, was to run the county like a business and that’s what we must do.”

Coleman feels the opioid crisis has caused an increase in children being greatly affected by CPS.

“When I came in here it was under 200 and then it was over 400, it has went down a little bit but I fear it will go even higher than what we are seeing now,” said Coleman. “There has to be a fix, I don’t know what it is, I’ve had many sleepless nights trying to figure out how to fix the opioid situation.”

Coleman said the cost for boarding the children is astronomical.

“It’s plain and simple to me, it’s numbers, at the end of 2021 the agencies money was gone, they needed $580,000 and by February the number was $730,000 just through February,” said Coleman.

Coleman said she understands the board is taking the change hard.

“They’re so passionate about it and their love for the children is on their mind,” said Coleman. “I just want them all to know we appreciate all they have done but there is nothing they can do about the financial situation and I want them to look at this like we are helping their situation and not working against them.”

Coleman said she doesn’t want the board to take it personally.

“After watching the meeting last night, there are so many taking it personally and it bothers me,” said Coleman. “There’s nothing you could have done with the situation of the opioid crisis.”

Coleman said the board was able to provide them with a plan but it was not a business plan.

“It doesn’t tell us the details of how they can put their recommendations to work and in spite of everything the commissioners had to cover their payroll and if it wasn’t for Commissioner Powell I don’t know when we would have been told they needed money to cover payroll because he asked what they needed,” said Coleman. “Bottom line, it’s business.”

Commissioner Bryan Davis said they have dealt with many tough situations over the years.

“This has been a possibility for over a year, in September 2020 the Commissioners worked with Director of JFS, Director of CPS, and Board of CPS to sign a mutual cooperation agreement to facilitate better communication between the two, this was to identify synergies between the two organizations,” said Davis.

Davis said another CPS attorney was hired who would answer to the prosecutor instead of the CPS Board.

“The goal was to push through as many cases as possible, to get to permanency, to reduce cost and it should also be noted that during this time the commissioners invested in a new special victims unit through the prosecutor’s office,” said Davis.

Davis said the Commissioners were trying to plan ahead.

“We saw the potential that without additional funding that this day, where we are right now, may come and we needed to do all we could to prepare for it,” said Davis. “We didn’t want it to come to this, we were hoping additional funding would come from the state.”

Davis said with children doubling, CPS needed more staff.

“Would the public rather us not remove these children? Would they rather our juvenile court judge turn a blind eye and CPS turn a blind eye? There are CPS that do that to keep their numbers generically low while children are literally being tortured and hurt physically and mentally in these homes,” said Davis.

Davis said due to the opioid epidemic there has been an increase in boarding, staff shortages, increased physical and mental trauma to children, families, CPS, law enforcement and court staff.

Davis said due to being a state-based system, reunification is done at all costs.

“In my opinion, it’s not been good because of forced reunification we’ve had infants with fatalities in this system,” said Davis. “State laws need to change, and they need to change now in order to prevent the deaths of more children, this is something we advocate for regularly.”

Davis said CPS just wants to do the right thing.

“They are a board of volunteers, comprised of community members, they are not paid, giving of their time, spending time away from family, members like you and me who show up and want to do the right thing but because of state regulations, lack of funding, an opioid epidemic and the amount of kids, they can’t do their duties,” said Davis.

Davis said he doesn’t want to see the board of CPS go through any more personal heartache.

“It simply isn’t worth it and it simply isn’t fair to them,” said Davis. “My recommendation, just as it is with 77 of the 88 counties, is Scioto County CPS being put under the administration of JFS Director, this move will increase financial efficiencies, organizational efficiencies, communication, and identify additional synergies that will save the organization money.”

Davis said he recommends the restructuring of the CPS board through the Commissioners.

“I think the link between the community and the advisory board is vital to identify issues that may go unnoticed otherwise and who will report the issues to the JFS and CPS Director, I hope that each one will consider being a part of this worthwhile effort,” said Davis.

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