Fund to help Ohio child agencies battered by opioid crisis

COLUMBUS (AP) — Ohio’s human services agency says it’s investing nearly $1 million in an emergency fund to help county children services departments battered by the opioid epidemic.

The Emergency Response Fund will assist agencies in crisis because of large-scale staff turnover, a child’s death, concerns about an agency’s performance, or other emergencies, said Kimberly Hall is director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

The fund pays for a three-person rapid response team that can travel to counties and provide support, including efforts to retain and recruit caseworkers.

Nearly 16,000 children are in custody in Ohio, a record high largely attributed to parents and guardians being unable to care for them because of opioid addictions.

One in four children services caseworkers left their jobs between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016, according to a survey by the Public Children Services Association of Ohio.

“Burnout and secondary trauma, as identified in the survey, lead many caseworkers to seek more traditional jobs with better pay,” according to a 2019 PCSAO report. ”Regardless of the reason, such turnover costs agencies – in recruitment, training, and overtime.”