Clinton County Job and Family Services to implement kinship program

By Gary Huffenberger - [email protected]



Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

WILMINGTON — Clinton County Job and Family Services (JFS) will soon bring into effect the “Kinnect to Family” program, with the hope it will expand the amount of children who get placed with safe kin willing to support them rather than entering foster care.

The county JFS applied for and was chosen to implement the state-funded program, which includes a person filling the position of a Kinnect to Family specialist, a job that will be funded for two years including required training.

“Together with Kinnect, unless COVID prevents otherwise, we will be hosting a community stakeholder meeting in the near future to introduce the program and answer any questions,” said Clinton County JFS Deputy Director Amanda Barrera.

Two cornerstones of Kinnect, according to its website, are a prioritization of family and kin in the child protection process, and achieving permanency and stability in placements.

“Together we hope to reduce the amount of time children spend in foster care; increase the amount of children placed with kin and placement stability; reduce the amount of time to achieve permanency; and save the county money on rising placement costs,” Barrera said Monday.

The job of Kinnect to Family specialist will consist of conducting a wide search of extended family to find potential kinship caregivers, as well as kinship support and assessments, and providing child-focused services when identifying kinship placements in addition to backup placements, according to Barrera.

“This position is unique in that the specialist will be working alongside the caseworker and family for a short time with a much smaller caseload, so they will have the capacity and skill to focus solely on family search and engagement work,” she added.

The position also will lighten the load for caseworker staff and provide optimal services for families, Barrera said.

Kinnect has a goal of creating extensive genograms to identify at least 80 maternal and paternal relatives. A genogram is more extensive than a basic family tree, providing a diagrammatic representation of a family that includes individual histories of illness and death and also incorporates aspects of the interpersonal relationships between family members, states the American Psychological Association website.

Clinton County JFS Director Nicole Rodman said they will evaluate the program after the two years and see whether it’s working and if so, they will look at absorbing the cost so Kinnect to Family can be continued.

In their Monday appointment with county commissioners, Rodman and Barrera touched on other agency news, too.

• Currently there are 14 young people in the Comprehensive Case Management Employment Program which is for youth ages 16 to 24. The program assists youth in obtaining jobs training, getting a high school equivalency diploma by passing GED tests, and getting hired.

“We’ve been doing some targeted outreach for 18- to 24-year-olds,” Rodman said.

With the Comprehensive Case Management Employment Program, JFS is the lead agency but OhioMeansJobs does the case management piece with the youth.

• In the area of child support, Rodman and the supervisor are considering taking more cases through the misdemeanor process.

The contempt process, she said, is a civil process and takes a lot of time and there are not automatic penalties associated with it. So they are looking at ways to move through the process a little more quickly, and increase child support collections as well, said Rodman.

“So that’s something new that we haven’t really done before,” she said.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

Barrera Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

By Gary Huffenberger

[email protected]