With recent months consumed by the matter of Children Services and the ever increasing costs of paying for foster care, the Highland County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday talked about some of the positive things happening to improve that situation.
Foster care costs has been at the forefront of commissioners meetings for months because the costs have increased so dramatically due to the number of children in foster care and the lack of foster homes in Highland County. It was reported recently that there are more than 140 children in foster care and just 12 foster homes in Highland County.
Commissioners on Wednesday said a web check system to help the approval for foster homes to work faster is in the works. That is just one of the measures being taken to address issues with foster care.
Another measure, according to board of commissioners president Shane Wilkin, is raising the per diem for foster homes in Highland County.
Commissioner Jeff Duncan said Wednesday that Children Services is “aggressively seeking” interested people to participate in being a foster parent by manner of advertising. Commissioner Tom Horst echoed that.
Streamlining the process for local people interested in being a foster parent, cutting costs, advertising, and raising the per diem rates, are some of the ways Job and Family Services and the county are working to address the rising costs of foster care.
Wilkin said that Highland County’s scale for pay for a foster child is based on age with the highest amount paid per day at $20, but it is anticipated that that highest per day amount will be “bumped” to $30. Wilkin said previously that when in-county and out-of-county placements are considered, the average cost to the county is $50 to $60 per day per child when factoring in higher costs to place children outside the county.
He said previously that even though that will cost the county more money for local foster homes, it will save the county money for not having to pay to house children out of the county, sometimes as far away as northern Ohio.
On Christmas Eve, commissioners met in an emergency session and passed a resolution transferring $825,000 to Children Services to bring the agency current with the state and with foster care providers before the end of the year.
Anyone interested in becoming a foster parent can call 937-393-3111, ext. 5055, to contact foster care coordinator Jodi Kidder.
On another matter, Highland County Health Department Director Jared Warner said the department was recently awarded a $297,500 grant for repairing/replacing household sewage systems.
He said his office is still trying to figure out all the details of the grant, but he wanted to let the commissioners know that the health department will have the funding available for the “next 18 months or so” to see to any home sewer system needs that might come to its attention.
Warner also said the grant came at a good time since the department, as required by law, recently began its septic system assessments and any problems discovered with home sewer systems during those assessments could potentially be addressed with the grant funding.
To contact the health department call 937-393-1941 or go to firstname.lastname@example.org. The department also has a Facebook page.
In other business, Tom Davis, director of the Ross Pickaway Highland Fayette Solid Waste District, updated commissioners on the district’s plans for the coming year.
He said the district’s website is currently being updated, the district is looking to place more recycling bins, and he talked about district support and planning for special collections (like tires and electronics) in 2016.
For more information on the district, go to rphfsolidwastedistrict.com.
The Highland County Board of Commissioners will hold its annual organizational meeting on Jan. 11 at 8:30 a.m.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.