PREBLE COUNTY — Becky Sorrell, Jobs and Family Services director, says her agency needs about $180,000 in additional funding to be able to pay for the placements of children and cover costs until the end of 2014.
Sorrell presented her monthly report at the Preble County Commissioners’ Monday, Aug. 18, meeting.
Children Services currently has about 111 children in open cases, 16 are in permanent custody, 70 in temporary custody, seven in Planned Permanent Living Arrangements and 18 in protective supervision. There were five new cases in July and four cases were closed.
Sixty-five children are with family or friends who are taking care of them, 18 are in local foster care at a cost of $9,555, 26 are in network foster care at a cost of $58,370.55 and 10 children are in residential care at a cost of $68,662.89.
Eleven children are involved with Children Services because of delinquency and 43 children that are in paid placement are neglected, abused or dependent.
Costs of placements for children range from six kids at $15 per day to two kids at $350 per day.
In July, Children Services received 46 calls/referrals, with 35 of them being cases in which they intervened.
In 2014, up until June 30, Preble County had 16 children in residential or group homes with seven being unruly/delinquent, six were abuse, neglected or dependent youth and three that fell into both categories. Two youth were moved from one residence to a more restrictive residence. Total cost of care so far in 2014 is $513,038.34, with nine facilities being utilized.
In 2013, 31 youth resided in residential or group homes, 10 were unruly or delinquent, 12 were cases of an abuse, neglected or dependent youth and four children fit both categories. Seven were moved from one facility to a second, more restrictive facility. Total cost of placement was $869,302.55, with 13 different facilities being used.
In 2012, 15 were in group homes, six were unruly/delinquent, five were abused, neglected or dependent youth, four fit both categories and one moved facilities for a total cost of $564,132.52, with 11 different facilities used.
In 2011, 19 children were in group homes, six were unruly/delinquent, nine were abused, neglected or dependent youth and four fit both categories. No child was moved between facilities for a total coast of $351,503.68, with nine facilities used.
Sorrell said there wasn’t a big difference in the number of children being placed in residential homes in these years, but now more expensive facilities are being used compared to previous years. She said the one of the reasons children are being placed in these more expensive, restrictive facilities is because their behaviors are getting more and more difficult to manage.
Sorrell said the Child Support Unit established 22 paternities in July and collected $513,114.20 in child support.
Sorrell said her agency is trying to reduce placements and costs for children. A family team meetings process has been started where support people are brought in to help keep children from being placed anywhere to begin with, to decrease their time in placement, increase the use of kinship caregivers, shorten the length of time cases are open, increase reunification and reduce future involvement of Children Services.
Sorrell said they are also trying to create a young adult transition team to help older children in care become more independent.
Sorrell said shared funding between her agency and other agencies has decreased. She said her department is trying to create more local foster homes because they cost less and keep children in a familiar environment.
Sorrell said she would like to extend Children Services Administrator Nancy Mahoney’s time until February. Mahoney is working as a part-time administrator until Sorrell can hire a full-time administrator who is experienced in child welfare.
“I think that person can develop procedures to reduce the time in care and negotiate contracts with the networks and residential places to reduce costs, can identify problem areas and develop plans to alleviate those problems, can strengthen the services that we have available at intake, can enforce the monthly reporting by the contracted providers and ensure the treatment progress is being made, can increase community awareness and can explore new levy options and possibilities to help with the costs,” Sorrell said.
Sorrell said in the future she hopes to hire additional social service workers to increase their ability to do more case management.
“Children Services work is not like everything else,” Sorrell said. “It’s very, very complex and it’s emotionally draining, it is mentally draining, there is no other work like it.”