DJFS requests $250,000 from county for foster care placement

Kathy Oliver, director of the Seneca County Department of Job & Family Services, requested $250,000 from the Seneca County commissioners Thursday to cover child protection services for the rest of year.

She warned that more money may be needed in 2020.

During the past four years, the county has contributed about $150,000 each year to the program, which places children in foster care when it isn’t safe for them remain with their families and kinship care with close family and friends is not an option.

During the previous four years, the county contributed $1.35 million.

Oliver said the cost of placing children likely is to hit an eight-year high this year. The cost in 2018 was $733,000, and the previous five years had been significantly less.

Beth Anway, DJFS business administrator, said this year’s cost could be more than $1 million.

Protective services are funded by federal, state and local governments, but Oliver said the county has not needed to add funding for a few years.

Oliver attributed the increases to family displacements due to substance abuse.

Mary Habig, executive director of Seneca Crawford Area Transportation, updated the commissioners on SCAT’s increasing activity.

The organization expanded to include Crawford County in 2017. In 2018, there were 114,444 trips, including 91,000 in Seneca County, which is a 33% increase from 2017.

The commissioners agreed to sign a letter allowing SCAT to continue its services in the county for the next three years. The letter must be renewed to allow state and federal funding to be disbursed to the agency. The agency’s budget is about $2.1 million.

The local match for federal and state funds, she said, are donated by local organizations and individuals.

Ohio Rep. Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin) updated the commissioners on the state budget.

“Ohio has a balanced budget,” he said. Legislators approved a $69.8 billion budget late Wednesday, which runs for fiscal year July 1 of this year through June 30, 2021.

A few highlights include the state’s two lower tax brackets being eliminated, a 4% personal income tax decrease, increases in funding for foster care and indigent health care and $25 million for state parks.

In addition, Ohio’s primary election date was moved to March 17 from the original date of March 10, and the ages for buying tobacco was increased to 21 from 18.

Reineke said the budget contains a record budget for education, and emphasizes that young adults be educated in a specialty field with an advanced degree or in an apprenticeship program by 2025.

Later Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine signed the budget bill into law with 25 line-item vetoes. Details on the vetoes were not available.

Also Thursday, Seneca County Juvenile and Probate Court Judge Jay Meyer thanked the commissioners and a long list of people, county offices and staff members for their support of the court, house at the Seneca County Justice Center.

Meyer said his annual report is available online at senecajpcourt.com.

“It’s been an amazing couple years for the court,” Meyer said. “I just walked out of our great new facility and it filled me the spirit of thanks.”

In other business, the commissioners:

Approved an agreement with the Seneca County Museum in which Seneca County Historical Society and the Barnes-Deinzer Museum Foundation each contribute $2,000 per year to museum operations. The commissioners pay for personnel, utilities and other needs.

Conducted two ditch hearings over the phone with Sandusky County commissioners.

Established the Integrated Naloxone Access and Infrastructure Fund.

Set 10:15 a.m. Aug. 15 in the commissioners’ office for opening sealed bids for one 64-passenger yellow school bus on behalf of the Seneca County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

Were reminded next week’s meeting is at 10 a.m. Wednesday, a change for the usual Thursday.