Highland County Commissioners Jeff Duncan, Shane Wilkin and Terry Britton signed a proclamation at their Wednesday, April 19 board meeting designating April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month in Highland County. Pictured from the Highland County Department of Job and Family Services/Children Services are: (front) Melissa Anderson, Hannah Allard, Walter Curren, Stephanie Beeler and Danette Miller; (middle) Commissioner Terry Britton, JFS Director Katie Adams, Commissioner Shane Wilkin, Mary Legg, Stephanie Newman, Jodi Kidder and Jamie Miller; and (back) Tonia Farley, Seth Queen, Karen Sauers and Commissioner Jeff Duncan. (HCP photo by Rory Ryan.)
Highland County Commissioners Jeff Duncan, Shane Wilkin and Terry Britton signed a proclamation at their Wednesday, April 19 board meeting designating April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month in Highland County. Pictured from the Highland County Department of Job and Family Services/Children Services are: (front) Melissa Anderson, Hannah Allard, Walter Curren, Stephanie Beeler and Danette Miller; (middle) Commissioner Terry Britton, JFS Director Katie Adams, Commissioner Shane Wilkin, Mary Legg, Stephanie Newman, Jodi Kidder and Jamie Miller; and (back) Tonia Farley, Seth Queen, Karen Sauers and Commissioner Jeff Duncan. (HCP photo by Rory Ryan.)
Highland County Commissioners Jeff Duncan, Shane Wilkin and Terry Britton signed a proclamation at their Wednesday, April 19 board meeting designating April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month in Highland County.

Child Abuse Prevention Month is a time to increase community awareness for child abuse prevention while highlighting the successes of families, children, foster parents and professional service providers.

Highland County Job and Family Services and Children Services Director Katie Adams told the commissioners that the county has 101 children in custody – including those in paid care and in kinship care – with annual placement costs of $1.9 million.

There have been six adoptions in the county thus far in 2017, with six more pending, Adams said.

Adams also announced that Highland County is one of 14 southern Ohio counties participating in the Ohio START (Sobriety Treatment and Reducing Trauma) program through Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's office.

The program gives Children Services agencies the "resources to partner closely with behavioral health providers and juvenile courts to form teams that will provide necessary supports to addicted parents and their children. The pilot will study how effective these teams can be in the parents’ recovery by providing timely, accessible trauma-informed treatment, intensive case management services, and recovery supports with certified peer specialists. Families engaged with Ohio START should experience less trauma and better child well-being outcomes. The children of these addicted parents will have the opportunity to live safely at home or return to their families sooner."

Adams said her local partners include FRS and Highland County Juvenile Court. "It's a different approach to case work, basically," she said.

Last month, DeWine announced a $3.5 million grant to the Public Children Services Association of Ohio (PCSAO) to help Children Services agencies in 14 southern Ohio counties combat the opioid epidemic. Counties covered by the grant include: Athens, Clermont, Clinton, Fairfield, Fayette, Gallia, Highland, Hocking, Jackson, Perry, Pickaway, Pike, Ross and Vinton.

DeWine this week announced that four southern Ohio counties have been added to the 14 originally selected to participate in the pilot program. He also allotted an additional $1 million to fund the expansion. Those counties are Adams, Brown, Lawrence and Scioto.

The Ohio State University College of Social Work and Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs will evaluate the program’s effectiveness. The source of the funds is the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA).

"We're excited about the program," Adams told commissioners. "The implementation phase is April-September. We've started training and webinars, and on Oct. 1, it will be up and running."

Adams also updated the commissioners about the process for becoming a foster and/or adoptive family, either full-time or on a temporary basis.

The process takes about six months to complete. Anyone wanting information is encouraged to contact Jodi Kidder at (937) 402-5055.

Following Adams' presentation, Wilkin read a proclamation for Child Abuse Prevention Month.

For more information, visit: http://www.pcsao.org/news/64.