WILMINGTON — The number of children in the custody and care of Clinton County Job and Family Services (JFS) continues to climb and has risen to 87, compared to 59 foster children in January.
Clinton County JFS Director Kathi Spirk provided the update Tuesday in an email to the county commissioners office “as we move toward the end of this year and into the 2018 budget process.”
In the email, Spirk reiterated “the need for an additional $1,000,000 through the end of 2018” due largely to an increase in foster care placement costs. The opiate scourge afflicting the county has led to an increased need to place children of drug-addicted parents in foster care.
“As a state supervised, county administered agency, the burden and responsibility for our county is a very important one as we have become parents for more children each day,” she wrote.
Spirk stated, “There are no easy answers for the innocent victims of the opiate crisis, but we are now responsible for the care of children who come to us through no fault of their own.”
The county JFS director advised commissioners that the director of the Ohio Job and Family Services Directors’ Association (OJFSDA) is willing to speak with commissioners at any time and has offered to attend the next meeting between the local JFS and county commissioners. The OJFSDA represents Ohio’s 88 county departments of Job and Family Services directors, and its website states the OJFSDA communicates key issues and solutions regarding the delivery of social services.
Spirk’s letter stated the request for $1 million is not for operational cost, “but for the cost for care of the children we are ultimately all responsible for.”
She concluded her email: “There is no greater legacy we will leave than how we cared for the most vulnerable citizens of our community. There is no greater investment than in the future of the children of Clinton County.”
On Wednesday, Spirk told the News Journal that the Clinton County commissioners “have always been supportive of our work in the past and I have no doubt they will continue to be. We will work on this together as a Clinton County team.”
She added, “We all care about the children of this community and I am proud of the work being done here to assure their safety. Those who work at JFS and in Child Protection with our children who are abused and neglected are heroes in my book!”
Spirk went on to say, “Our need for foster parents continues and we are blessed to have so many wonderful folks who open up their homes every day to children in need.”
In an appointment Wednesday with commissioners, Katie Wright, assistant prosecutor for the county’s Child Support Enforcement Agency, reported that 26 indigent clients have received assistance through the new Clinton/Highland County Family Law Clinic.
Those who qualify receive a free legal consultation with a volunteer attorney at the clinics held periodically in the Clinton County Courthouse. Clients have been assisted on issues such as parenting time, child support and other family law related matters.
All clinic clients are screened for indigence or financial need.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.