Highland County Job and Family Services Director Katie Adams told county commissioners Wednesday that there are currently 101 children in the foster system in Highland County, costing the county $1.9 million annually for foster home placement.
According to Adams, the cost is higher than normal due to a larger amount of older juveniles and siblings needing placement, as well as children with behavioral problems. There are currently 15 foster parents in Highland County now, Adams said, meaning many children must be placed in other counties, incurring higher costs.
Adams reported there have been six adoptions so far this year, and six more are currently pending. She said she hopes there will be 15 to 20 adoptions in total this year.
Adams said JFS will provide free foster care certification classes from May 23 to June 29. According to Adams, once foster parent trainees finish classes, they must apply for a license and undergo home visits and interviews, as well as a safety audit and fire inspection in their home. Upon receiving a foster parenting license, parents will be paid for attending the classes, Adams said.
Adams said the time frame for becoming a foster parent is about six months.
For more information on becoming a foster parent, contact foster care coordinator Jodi Kidder at 937-402-5055.
According to Adams, HCJFS is one of 14 JFS entities participating in Ohio START (Sobriety, Treatment, and Reducing Trauma), an intervention program funded by the state attorney general’s office providing specialized victim services to children who have suffered victimization due to parental drug use.
According to a release from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, START brings together child protective services, peer mentors, the courts and behavioral health and treatment providers to work closely with families whose children have been abused or neglected due to parental drug addiction.
HCJFS can be reached at 937-393-4278.
Adams and several caseworkers and staff members from JFS attended the meeting, and the commissioners declared April Child Abuse Prevention Month in Highland County.
Keith Alcorn and Bev Jeffries of Highco, Inc. also attended the meeting, updating the commissioners on the nonprofit’s activities.
Alcorn, CEO of Highco, said the nonprofit became independent from the Highland County Board of Developmental Disabilities on Jan. 1 of this year, and so far the separation has been going smoothly.
According to Alcorn, Highco recently received CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) accreditation, and is looking to expand to a larger facility.
Alcorn also said Highco will be hosting youth job training camps this summer for those with disabilities. According to Alcorn, disabled youths in attendance can chose from a variety of work stations where they can learn about different occupations.
The commissioners also passed a motion to upgrade the office’s email provider for $1,200 per year, and reviewed applications for a janitorial position.
Commissioner Jeff Duncan said he recently attended the 75th anniversary celebration for the Highland County Soil & Water Conservation District, Ohio’s first district of its kind. Duncan said the Highland County Historical Society made a presentation on the World Plowing Matches in Adams County.
Commissioner Terry Britton said three people were recently appointed to the new policy committee for the Ross, Pickaway and Highland County Solid Waste District, including Heidi Devine, Highland County recycling outreach specialist.
Commissioners also passed routine financial resolutions.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.