The number of children in foster care is fewer than 100 and the projected cost of caring for these children is falling, too, according to the Highland County Board of Commissioners at Wednesday’s meeting.
According to commission president Shane Wilkin, the number of kids in foster care is “below 100 for the first time in quite a while,” and that is largely due to getting children into kinship care. In recent months, there have been more than 150 Highland County children in foster care.
Wilkin previously said the agency has been focusing on getting more children that are removed from their homes placed in kinship care versus foster care. A kinship provider is a person that already has a relationship with the child, such as a relative or a close family friend.
He said the projected cost for caring for foster children in the care of the county for this year was at $2.4 million, but that number now is projected at below $2 million, he said.
“Although that’s still a big number, it’s heading in the right direction,” he said.
Last month Ronda McAdams with Highland County Children Services told Greenfield Rotarians that there are only 15 licensed foster homes in the county. That means that children in foster care often must be placed outside the county in network foster homes and in residential facilities, which costs the county more money.
Last year, the numbers of children in foster care having to be placed outside the county contributed to costing the county an additional $1 million.
According to Highland County Auditor Bill Fawley Wednesday, the county’s levy in place to support foster care expenses brings in “a little over half a million” annually. Wilkin previously said that levy was designed to support about 60 children, rather than the easily doubled numbers of the last couple years.
“It is definitely an issue,” Wilkin said Wednesday.
Another matter briefly discussed was in regard to state legislation extending foster care services up to the age of 21, but offering no additional funding. And according to Wilkin, Highland County is 50th in Ohio’s 88 counties in what the state provides in funding for foster children.
Those interested in helping or who are interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent can call Highland County Children Services at 937-393-3111.
In other business, a correspondence with an Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Gary Obermiller in regard to improvements the agency plans at Rocky Fork State Park was discussed briefly.
According to the letter, with the “dedication of additional capital funds,” the agency plans to do renovations at the playground and restrooms at the lake. Additionally, the letter states that the agency is looking into security lighting. A place to relocate dredging materials from the North Beach boat ramp was also noted, though no specific location was detailed.
On a related matter, commissioner Tom Horst said this week through June 12 was National Fishing and Boating Week, and he encouraged Highland County residents to get out and enjoy the county’s lakes.
On other matters, commissioners approved a motion for McHone Painting to paint a hangar and office area at the Highland County Airport. Commissioner Jeff Duncan said the bid was for $7,500 and includes the building being power washed, scraped, primed, and painted.
According to Horst, there are enough capital funds to cover the project. He said new roofing is also needed, and commissioners will look into that further.
As previously reported, with the resignation of Jennifer Waterman with Highland County Recycling, commissioners have looked into contracting the position rather than hiring an employee. On that note, Wilkin said he “reached out to other counties” and received the name of a person for the job.
Duncan said he has been in contact with the individual who is interested in the position. An interview is set with the person on Thursday.
Duncan also said that if that does not work out, he already spoke to the Highland County Soil and Water Conservation District which indicated a willingness to consider the matter.
According to Wilkin, some counties run their recycling programs through the soil and water office.
The Highland County Board of Commissioners meets each Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. on the second floor of the county administration building, 119 Governor Foraker Pl., Hillsboro. The meetings are open to the public.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.