Highland County Job and Family Services (JFS) employees turned agency director Jeremy Ratcliff’s sour grapes toward the Cincinnati Bengals AFC Championship win into a boon for department morale.
Ratcliff was forced to don Cincinnati Bengals attire for the day, Thursday, Feb. 9, as a condition of his employees exceeding the fundraising goal for their annual Christmas party.
Since his time growing up in Jackson, Ohio, Ratcliff has been an ardent Pittsburgh Steelers fan, and he was dismayed by his favorite team’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. The Bengals’ Super Bowl berth was no consolation to him.
“As a Steelers fan, I just can’t root for the Bengals,” he said. “I can’t cheer for the Bengals as a die-hard lifelong Steelers fan. It’s been a good 20-year run to be a Steelers fan, but this Bengals team, they’re good, they’re really good, and it’s got folks around here energized, and it was fun to see the smiles on people’s faces, and that’s part of what we’re trying to do really is create a culture where people want to come here to work.”
The agency of nearly 50 people had a fundraising goal of $150 for this year’s Christmas party and took in $207.
Ratcliff assumed the position as the county JFS director in June of 2021. Prior to working for JFS, he worked for Talbert House, a non-profit organization in Cincinnati. He served as the chief probation officer for Highland County for more than 17 years before working in Cincinnati.
Ratcliff said the co-chairs of the department’s Christmas committee decided, “We’ll set a goal, and we’ll put the director in our orange and black, and of course I don’t own any orange and black so these are all donated from the staff to put me in the Bengals gear today.”
Highland County JFS oversees various federal and state funding sources to assist children, adults and families in the county. The Child Support Division of the agency enforces child support collection orders, and the Child Welfare Unit is charged with keeping children and families safe and intervening when there are reports of abuse, neglect or dependency. Cash, food and Medicaid assistance is provided to eligible residents through the Income Maintenance Unit.
“We’re really touching many, many families in this community in some form or fashion whether it’s through our income maintenance services or child welfare involvement or even child support with the ultimate goal of making the community and the families stronger as a result of those programs,” said Ratcliff.
Ratcliff said the hard work Highland County JFS employees put in is often done behind the scenes and goes unnoticed.
“It was enough to get me in orange and black today,” he said.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.