WILMINGTON — To meet the costs of a greater number of children in foster care or under court-ordered protective supervision, the leaders of Clinton County Job and Family Services’ (JFS) Child Protection Unit said Wednesday they want to put an additional Children Services levy on the fall ballot.
Though the levy’s millage amount has not been determined, Clinton County JFS Director Kathi Spirk said they would look at raising at least $1 million annually going forward in order to be sustainable in the future.
“We will need an ongoing source of sustainable revenue for the future of Clinton County children to keep them safe; our kids deserve for us to make plans for their future,” Spirk said.
Clinton County JFS Deputy Director Gina Speaks-Eshler said the reason why the Child Protection Unit is able to “squeak by this year” is because county commissioners have authorized an advance on Children Services levy money and will be asked to do so again later in the year.
In February, Clinton County commissioners voted 3-0 to authorize a funds advance so the Child Protection Unit would not run out of money for child protection custody.
Speaks-Eshler said there needs to be an ongoing source of new revenue to continue to do business at a level which children around the county need.
As previously reported, the funding shortfall is due to a substance-abuse scourge that has led to an increased need to place children of addicted parents in foster care.
As of Wednesday, there were 70 Clinton County children in foster care. Moreover, there are 134 local children with court-ordered protective supervision — these type of cases have doubled in the past year, said Speaks-Eshler.
Court-ordered protective supervision cases are where children cannot be safely maintained in their own home but the children don’t come into foster care, she said. Instead, because of an imminent safety threat, the households of relatives or friends are sought out, Speaks-Eshler said.
Of the local court-ordered protective supervision cases, 93 percent of them have a serious drug component, she said. And of the 70 local children in foster care, 90 percent of those cases are drug-related.
Child Protection Unit Fiscal Administrator Cheryl Babb said Wednesday she anticipates needing to request a second advance of Children Services levy funds in July or August.
Other counties and other children services agencies in Ohio are dealing with funding shortfalls, as previously reported. Spirk said what she and others are hearing is that more counties are going toward levies as Columbus has not indicated it will help substantially.
For an additional Children Services levy to go on the November ballot in Clinton County, the county commissioners will have to give their blessing. Spirk expects to meet with commissioners in the coming weeks.
The existing levy runs until 2024.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.