Magazine article Policy & Practice

Changing the 'Face' of Child Welfare in Greene County, Ohio

Magazine article Policy & Practice

Changing the 'Face' of Child Welfare in Greene County, Ohio

Article excerpt

Greene County Children Services is a large, stand-alone child welfare agency located in Xenia, Ohio. It is a suburb of Dayton and in close proximity to Cincinnati and Columbus. Greene County is home to Wright Patterson Air Force Base and five universities. It has some large, rural areas as well as areas that experience urban issues. Ohio is a state-supervised and county-administered state. As such, county funds are used in different ways to augment state and federal dollars to perform the child welfare function. One option in local financing is to run a property tax levy. In Greene County, the local property tax comprises 42 percent of the agency's budget. The county basically lives and breathes based on its levy revenues. I would like to describe Greene County's journey to make practice more family-centered, the needs of families it serves more clear and public perception more realistic about the "face" of public child welfare while making an attempt to pass an additional tax levy in November 2008.

Over the last decade GCCS has been on a journey to become more family-centered, strength-based and community-focused in its child welfare practices. The agency's work started with becoming a ProtectOhio (IV-E Waiver) county in the late 1990s. That work continues today. During that phase of development, the agency looked at practice processes that enhanced or impeded its ability to serve children in their own homes in an effort to prevent and reduce placements. Examples included enhancing the use of genograms and ecomaps, family team meetings, screening procedures and participating in community-based, wrap-around services. Also during this time, the agency sought its initial COA accreditation and improved its QA and administrative practices. The next phase of development in early 2003 involved being a pilot for Ohio's new system of safety and risk assessment (CAPMIS). This created more opportunities to look at family strengths, protective capacities, community supports and to further hone the earlier ProtectOhio work. The current phase of the agency's family-centered journey involves implementing Ohio's Alternative Response pilot. Just implemented in July 2008, this pilot is affording the agency and its community partners with the opportunity to look differently and more intensely at the entire spectrum of family-centered practices. The agency's message to the community throughout this time has been that it takes everyone to protect children and support families. This has been embraced and the agency has enjoyed tremendous community support, but the public "face" of the agency remained unchanged. …

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