2014 Annual Report - Mahoning County Children Services



2014 Annual Report - Mahoning County Children Services
Mahoning County Children Services
2014 Annual Report
Our Mission:
Mahoning County Children
Services, in partnership with
the community, is committed
to being the leader in protecting children while helping
preserve families.
Guiding Principles:
We are child welfare leaders
We respect and value families
and their children
We value our partnership with
the community
Letter from Mahoning County Children Services’
Executive Director Randall B. Muth, J.D.
Dear Community Members:
The mission of the Mahoning County Children Services Board is, of course, to protect children and strengthen families. To accomplish this mission, we must constantly strive to develop and implement the most effective, evidenced based strategies to provide children
with safe, nurturing and permanent families. But, we must also preserve our fiscal resources to ensure that we are never precluded from applying those strategies due to financial constraints. This is even
more important given the grave economic situation our state and country has faced for the last six years. For this reason,
we are very grateful for the support the community has expressed by the passage of our replacement levy in November
of 2014. This investment will allow the Agency to implement great improvements in the quality of services we provide
which will result in better outcomes for the families we serve.
In the area of programmatic improvements, our first priority for 2015 must be to reduce high-end residential placements
of our children. Over the second half of 2014, we observed a steady increase in the number children being placed in residential settings and, once placed, those children tended to remain in that placement for longer durations. Most research
indicates institutional care for children should be viewed as a placement of last resort and should be utilized on a short
term basis to quickly stabilize the child or to ensure the safety of the child or the community. In the absence of significant
safety risks, children are much better served in their community and in the most family-like setting possible.
Because the child welfare field operates in the complex realm of human relationships, trends in the field are rarely established in months. Sometimes, not even in years. However, this dramatic rise in residential placement does seem to be a
sustained development. As such, it is incumbent upon the agency to conduct a thorough examination into the root causes of this increase. Therefore, in addition our mandate to protect children and strengthen families, over the course of
2015, we will make a concerted effort to discover factors driving this trend. It is my sincere hope that next year I will be
able to report to the community that we have identified the explanation for this phenomenon and reversed this trend.
Children Services is also committed to partnering with other agencies and governmental agencies to maximize federal
support of our valuable programs. One exciting collaborative between CSB and the Mahoning County Juvenile Court began in 2012 and came into full fruition in 2014. Representatives from the Mahoning County Juvenile Court, Mahoning
County Children Services Board, as well as other service providers such as schools, residential placement facilities, mental
health providers, police departments and drug abuse treatment providers have agreed to work together to improve service delivery for youth who are dually involved with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. We do this by enhancing the existing partnerships between governmental agencies, private service providers, community stakeholders and,
most importantly, the families themselves.
Called the Crossover Youth model, this collaborative seeks to embody a strength-based perspective designed to improve
the lives of youth and families by building on their inherent strengths thus helping them overcome the challenges that
brought them into the system. The collaborative partners are committed to developing each family’s untapped strengths
and resources to create and plan for their improved futures. The practice model builds on the principle of ensuring family
engagement and equitable treatment at every level of the system.
Letter from Mahoning County Children Services’ Executive
Director Randall B. Muth, J.D.
By working together, we have created a seamless process from case opening to case closing that improves outcomes for
Crossover Youth. I would like to thank Judge Dellick, Magistrate Richard White and everyone who had a part in making
this process the success it has become.
As we progress through 2015, it is our hope to expand on the vibrant spirit of collaboration and communication which is
growing each year in this County. But, mostly, I would like to thank you, the citizens of Mahoning County, for making services to families a priority as evidenced by the investment you have made in our multi-systemic approach to reducing
child abuse.
I am firmly convinced that child protection truly takes a community. So, as you read this, please take a moment to reflect
on how you may help build a community where all children can thrive, develop character, and learn to be responsible citizens in an environment of security and love. By honoring our obligation to support and protect our young people, we all
have an opportunity to make a positive difference in the life of a child and build a brighter future for our community. I
encourage all citizens of Mahoning County to recognize that child abuse prevention starts with each one of us.
Randall B. Muth, JD
Executive Director
2014 Board Members
Standing—Left to Right: Mr. Anthony Spano, Rev. Lewis Macklin (Chair), Mr. Calvin Jones, Mr. Luis Arroyo
Seated—Left to Right: Ms. Brigid Kennedy, Mrs. Victoria S. M. Wiery
Missing from Photo: Dr. Thomas M. Gemma D.O. , Ms. Margaret Wellington
Agency Services
Department of Family Services
Rona Curtis, Program Administrator
Family Services Department Supervisors
Standing—Left to Right: Glenna Ress (Abuse Unit), Mercia Stevens (Ongoing
Unit #1), Paula Libbey (Ongoing Unit #3) Bradley Smith (Ongoing Unit #4)
Seated—Left to Right: Samantha Rotz-Toney (Ongoing Unit #2) Rona Curtis
(Program Administrator) Gretchen Bowman (Intake Unit)
The goal of the Family Services Department is to strengthen the family unit and decrease and/or eliminate risk to children: By using innovative case management techniques, agency resources and community services, we strive to respond to the wide variety of needs of the children in our community.
The Family Services Department is comprised of 1 (one) Program Administrator, 6 (six) Unit Supervisors (1-intake, 1abuse, and 4-ongoing) 36 (thirty– six) full-time Casework staff, one Parent Education Coordinator, 4 (four) Family Services Aides, 1 (one) part-time Family Preservation Specialist, and newly added in 2014, an Enhanced Visitation Caseworker.
The primary role of the Family Services Department is to provide assistance to at-risk families in order to keep their children safe from abuse and neglect in their own homes. This is best accomplished in partnership with the family and community supports. Caseworkers initiate services at the intake level by engaging families to actively participate in assessing
and identifying what is important in achieving safety of children and strengthening healthy family functioning. Should
additional services remain necessary beyond the intake level, the case is transferred to ongoing, for seamless service
Department of Family Services—Continues
Rona Curtis, Program Administrator
In the Family Services Department, we strive to strengthen the family unit and decrease or eliminate risk to children. By
using innovative case management techniques, agency resources, and community services, we strive to respond to the
wide variety needs of the children in our community.
The Family Services Department is comprised of one Program Administrator, six Unit Supervisors (1-Intake, 1-Abuse, and
4-Ongoing Supervisors), thirty-five full-time Casework Staff, one Parent Education Coordinator, four Family Services Aides,
a part-time Family Preservation Specialist, and newly added in 2014, an Enhanced Visitation Caseworker.
Mahoning County Children Services received and processed 1,649 referrals in 2014.
Of the 1,649 referrals received in 2014, 53.8% were rated Differential Response.
Differential Response (DR), an approach embraced by Mahoning County Children Services, is identified to help families’
access services, supports and other assistance to resolve their concerns. Differential Response is based on the belief families can stay together if they receive the assistance they need when concerns occur. DR creates a partnership between
families and caseworkers and is designed to ensure child safety and well-being by addressing the family’s issues as early
as possible. DR promotes a family-centered, family driven, strength-based practice and utilizes family engagement to best
serve the need of children and families.
Of the 1,649 referrals received in 2014, 28.2% were rated Traditional.
Traditional Response is the approach that formally investigates reported allegations of child abuse or neglect and
concludes with a final disposition regarding the alleged incident of unsubstantiated, indicated or substantiated.
Department of Family Services—Continues
Rona Curtis, Program Administrator
Internal Programs
Lead Caseworkers:
Lead Caseworkers support the learning experience of new agency employees and Youngtown State University’s UPP
(University Partnership Program) students through a hands-on, mentoring approach. Lead caseworkers facilitate quarterly meetings with community partners throughout each year. This collaboration has paved the way for not only developing new partnerships throughout the county, but the state as well.
Parent Education Program:
The goal of the Parent Education Program is to improve and/or enhance parenting skills and parent/child bonding. It provides an eight week series of classes that include: Building Self-Esteem, Child Health Care and Development, Homemaking I (Budgeting), Homemaking II – (Nutrition/Meal Planning and Preparation along with Housekeeping Skills), and Discipline 1(Various Approaches-Praise/Charting/ Logical Consequences), Discipline II (1, 2, 3 Magic, Enjoying Your Children,
and Fire and Poison Safety/Evaluation Review).
There were 88 participants who attended Parent Education Classes and fifty-four participants who completed the eight
week series.
Community Parenting Classes: There were twenty-eight inquires received for the community parenting series. Of the
seven parents who attended and participated, all seven parents completed the series.
Therapeutic Foster Care Program:
The goal of the Therapeutic Foster Care Program is to prevent placement disruption by addressing the behavioral and
emotional problems of children in foster care. It provides Intensive Therapeutic Services to Foster Families and Foster
Children to find creative solutions to problems while in substitute care. There were seven foster children and foster families served through the Therapeutic Program. There were 334 children placed in the custody of the agency via ex-parte,
voluntary agreement of care, or court order. Forty-seven children returned to a parent or guardian and custody of fortythree children were committed to relatives or non-relatives. The total number of children the agency received as a result of permanent custody or permanent surrender was twenty-two.
Enhanced Visitation Program:
The goal of Enhanced Visitation is to assure safety and promote positive parenting behavior during visits of family members with children in the agency’s custody. Enhanced Visitation provides interactive supervised visits to assist parents in
improving their ability to meet their children’s needs. Through supportive, targeted, hands-on skill building, this structured visitation is aimed to help a parent gain increased time with their children, and eventually allow reunification to
safely occur. Enhanced visitation utilizes a strength-based approach by assisting parents in identifying those positive
skills they possess and building upon them.
Department of Family Services—Continues
Rona Curtis, Program Administrator
Community Collaborations
Mahoning County Family Dependency Treatment Court: (FDTC)
The goal of the FDTC collaboration is to provide immediate and comprehensive treatment to the substance-abusing parent so the family can remain intact or achieve reunification.
In 2014, Mahoning County Children Service made fifteen referrals to the Family Dependency Treatment Court. There
were five participants who graduated from the extensive 18 month program, and nine participants continued to follow
the program guidelines into 2015. Six participants were negatively terminated from the program.
Crossover Youth Practice Model: (CYPM)
Casey Family Programs and the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at the Georgetown University Public Policy have partnered since 2007 to address the unique issues presented by children and youth who are known to both the Child Welfare System and Juvenile Justice System. Mahoning County Children Services and Mahoning County Juvenile Court began collaborating to implement the CYPM in September, 2012,and presented the model to the community in September,
2013, with goals of reducing the number of youth placed in out-of-home care, a reduction in the use of congregate care,
a reduction in the disproportionate representation of children of color and a reduction in the number of youth becoming
dually-adjudicated. There were 135 youths identified and serviced as a Crossover Youth in 2014.
Safety, Permanency, Well-being!
Continuous Quality Improvement
Julie Rudolph, Supervisor
Mahoning County Children Services remains committed to providing high quality services on a consistent and ongoing
basis; to that end, quality improvement activities are a high priority in all facets of Mahoning County Children Services’
MCCS employs a full time Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) Supervisor and a full time Quality Improvement Specialist. The CQI staff complete a variety of activities to measure and evaluate the agency’s effectiveness and service
recipients’ satisfaction with the services of the agency. The position of Community Education Specialist is housed in
the CQI Department, as well.
The CQI Supervisor reviewed eight dispositional appeals in 2014; of those eight appeals, two dispositions were amended and six were upheld. Sixteen formal complaints were received. Five Critical Incident Reports were completed in the
interest of ensuring that best practice guidelines are followed in the process of responding to an extraordinary event.
The CQI Specialist is tasked with attending all court involved six month reviews as the neutral third party and completing a permanency review sheet to enhance the agency’s ability to achieve permanency for children in the custody
of the agency in a timely manner. The Specialist has expanded the areas being reviewed in 2014 to include the medication logs at the agency’s child care centers. The Specialist attended adoption matching meeting as the Multi-Ethnic
Placement Act monitor as required by Ohio Administrative Code.
The CQI Department reviews and compiles Client Satisfaction Surveys. The results of these surveys are used to inform
the decision making process when evaluating agency performance and implementing changes for improvement.
The Community Education Specialist coordinates staff training, foster parent training and pre-service training for people interested in becoming foster or adoptive parents. The CES facilitates community events, mandated reporter training and presents information about Mahoning County Children Services to any organization that requests our presence.
Some highlights of 2014 included the CES speaking at the Making Kids Count Benefit Dinner, coordinating with Operation Keepsake to involve teens in agency custody in Equine Therapy, participating in April’s Child Abuse Awareness
Month events and organizing the Mahoning County Children Services booth at the Canfield Fair. The CES Specialist
also partners with community members to distribute donations of Easter baskets, school supplies, Thanksgiving food
baskets and Christmas gifts.
Continuous Quality Improvement—Continues
Julie Rudolph, Supervisor
Department of Placement Services
Anthony Paris, Program Administrator
The Placement Services Department (PSD) includes the Adoption, Foster Care,
Group Home, Residential and Independent Living Programs. The department is
driven to facilitate these programs with a focus on safety, permanency and wellbeing. The five programs are managed by a Program Administrator and two Unit
The Foster Care and Adoption Programs are
managed within a combined unit, the
“Adoption and Foster Care Unit”. The unit was
previously comprised of three licensing caseworkers, two adoption assessors, an inquiry
caseworker as well as two part time caseworkers, who provided case management of
ICPC (Interstate Compact on the Placement of
Children) cases. During 2014, the need arose
for additional resources to be allocated to the
Foster Care and Adoption Programs. ThereMrs. Theresa Pancoe, Foster/Adoption
fore, one of the part time ICPC casework posiSupervisor (Holding National Adoption
Month Resolution from Mahoning County
tions was eliminated and a new full time posiCommissioners )
tion was created. This caseworker is a hybrid
of sorts, as the worker manages a blend of foster care and adoption cases. We
now have one part time ICPC caseworker who handles outgoing and incoming
ICPC assignments.
2014 Department of
Placement Services Stats
Children in Permanent Custody
Children in Adoptive Placement
Children Waiting for Adoption
Adoptions Finalized, 2014
ADOPTION: Mahoning County Children Services adoption assessors are currently assigned at the time of filing for permanent custody. The adoption assessor
completes a CSI (Child Study Inventory) tool for the birth family. The information
is gathered through completion of the CSI and is crucial for the child and any potential adoptive family, should the agency be granted permanent custody. The
CSI is used to document the biological parent’s social background and medical
information as well as the child’s birth information, development, placement
history, behaviors and cognitive abilities. The information assists the assessor in
matching the child with an appropriate family. The Social Medical History tool is
also used by the assessor. The tool allows the assessor to gather medical, genetic and social history pertaining to the parents. When the agency receives permanent custody, the adoption assessor becomes the primary worker for the
child and they begin to prepare the child/sibling group for adoption.
Recruitment begins and the assessor focuses on finding a forever family for the
child/sibling group by utilizing a child specific recruitment plan for every child
who is in the permanent custody of the agency.
Department of Placement Services—Continues
Anthony Paris, Program Administrator
Since 2012, children in the permanent custody of the agency have been receiving child centered recruitment through
Northeast Ohio Adoption Services, who continues to receive a grant through Wendy’s Wonderful Kids. Mahoning County
Children Services adoption assessors have also had success in achieving permanency for children through the utilization
of LexisNexis, a family search and engagement tool, as part of their recruitment efforts. The adoption assessor also participates annually in the statewide Matching Conferences, as well as adoption mixers, to enhance recruitment efforts.
The efforts are paying off as Mahoning County Children Services has finalized 21 adoptions during 2014, up from only 6
finalizations in 2013.
FOSTER CARE: The licensing workers must act as a support to their foster families while also insuring child safety and
rule compliance related to Chapter 5101:2-7 of the Ohio Administrative Code. As of December 31, 2014, Mahoning
County Children Services has a pool of 65 active foster homes, many of which are also approved adoptive homes. During
2014, nine new homes were approved by the agency as a foster care placement. However, 14 foster homes have closed.
On January 1, 2014, there were 170 children in placement. One hundred and two were placed in Mahoning County Children Services foster homes. There were also 19 children placed in our two group homes, 19 children in placement at
CRC’s (Child Residential Center’s) and 30 children placed in “borrowed” or paid foster care placements on January 1,
During 2014, Mahoning County Children Services placed 124 new children. In total, the Placement Services Department
secured 294 placements for the children of Mahoning County. The Mahoning County Children Services network of foster
homes provided for 129 of the total number of placements.
Recruitment: Recruitment remains a crucial issue. Current foster parents are often the best recruiters for public
agencies. Mahoning County Children Services was fortunate to get some media support to raise awareness
about the need for new foster and adoptive homes. Agency personnel were granted the privilege of being guests
on “Increase the Peace” hosted by WYTV’s Andrea Mahone three times in 2014. A large focus was placed on the
number of children in care, the number of active foster homes with Mahoning County Children Services and the
agencies need for new foster and adoptive homes. WKBN also conducted an interview with Placement Service
Department Administrator Tony Paris in May, 2014 regarding our need for new adoptive and foster homes. We
also partnered with Ohio grocery chain MARC’s to assist us in recruitment. The agency purchased twenty-four
thousand pharmacy bags from MARC’s, which are used by the grocer when purchases are made by customers.
The pharmacy bags contained information about contacting the agency to obtain information on becoming a
foster or adoptive parent.
Retention: Retention efforts for 2014 included the agency’s participation in the Foster Parent Association “Walk
Stroll and Roll” event in May to raise awareness about fostering. Staff volunteered to assist the FPA in coordination and implementation of the event. Mahoning County Children Services also held our annual Foster Parent
Appreciation Dinner on May 23, 2015, which was well attended by our foster parents. Mahoning County Children Services provides our foster parents with plenty of information on available training, activities and supports
available in the community, information about the FPA, and ODJFS rule updates. This is provided through our
newsletter known as “Notable News”.
Department of Placement Services—Continues
Anthony Paris, Program Administrator
The Inquiry Caseworker has several duties. This worker is responsible for providing parties with information
about becoming foster and adoptive parent. This worker also processes requests from other counties for social
histories and also completes sealed adoptee file reviews to provide non-identifying information to adult adoptees whose adoptions were finalized in Mahoning County.
Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, or ICPC, is a statutory law in all fifty (50) states. It is designed to ensure that children from across state lines are placed in a safe, suitable environment qualified to meet their individual
needs. Our ICPC Caseworker is responsible for processing incoming and outgoing request for services per OAC rules
5101:2-52-04 and 5101:2-52-06. The worker provides a crucial service in providing permanency for children. Incoming
ICPC requests from other states require that the ICPC worker inform the relative, or non-relative, that they may request
to be licensed as a foster parent. If the party chooses to become a foster parent, they are required to complete preservice training before the initial certification process can be initiated. The ICPC worker is also responsible for outgoing
ICPC requests for the placement of children who are in care in our county. In 2014, the ICPC workers completed 15 requests for ICPC services.
Group Home & Residential: Mahoning County Children Services focuses on improved outcomes for children in placement. We strive to place all children in a family setting, which is more appropriate and less restrictive. However, some
children require a higher level of care. Mahoning County Children Services is one of four remaining Ohio counties who
operate group homes. Our group homes allow for children who require this level of care to remain in the community
and for regular contact with family to occur.
As of January 1, 2015, The Group Home Program is made up of two Group Life Managers and twenty-one group home
staff or Youth Leaders. The Residential Unit Supervisor directly supervises the Group Life Managers, and the Group Life
Manager directly supervises the group home staff at the two group home facilities the agency leases and operates. The
homes are certified by ODJFS and licensed by the Youngstown City Health District. The two homes are located centrally
in Mahoning County.
Home For Kids Inc. continues to provide individual and group counseling to the children. They also provide crisis intervention services, staff training and other supports.
Over the past year, the agency has begun to use Tickets for Kids (TFK) as an incentive for children at the homes. TFK is a
non- profit organization located in Pittsburgh, PA, which is committed to helping underprivileged children from around
the country. The organization allows children to attend shows, sporting events and museums by securing tickets from
various entities. Our group homes provide other recreational activities as well. The children went on several fieldtrips in
the summer of 2014 and Mahoning County Children Services provides annual memberships to the local YMCA.
Twenty-two placements were provided at the Swanston Children’s Boys Home and twenty placements were provided
by Girls Childcare Center during 2014. In 2014, the group home program served 42 children. When children are ready
for discharge from the program, a discharge plan is created and the goal is to secure a less restrictive placement in a
family setting. When reunification with the birth parents or a kinship placement is not an option, Mahoning County
Children Services attempts to utilize its own network of foster homes first.
Department of Placement Services—Continues
Anthony Paris, Program Administrator
Mahoning County Children Services also believes that staff must be well trained and supported. All Staff receive extensive training, which includes a three stage orientation process and 24 hours of annual ongoing training required
by rule. All group home staff is certified in CPR and First Aid. Staff also receives annual training in Universal Precautions. Furthermore, staff is required by ODJFS rule to be provided training in techniques and methodologies of passive physical restraint.
The Group Home Program is continually evolving. Over the past three years, the agency has implemented new services for residents and enhanced supports for staff to improve outcomes for youth served in the program. Residential caseworkers provide case management services to children who are placed in either treatment foster care, private group homes or a Child Residential Center (CRC) setting. CRC settings are the most restrictive placement setting.
During 2014, 69 children were served in a CRC placement, which increased from 2013, in which there were a total of
43 children served. There were also 54 children served in paid or “borrowed” foster placements. As stated previously, 129 children were served in Mahoning County Children Services network of traditional foster homes.
Number of Children Served: Group Home/Residential Program
Boys Child Care Center
Girls Child Care Center
Total Group Home Placements
Residential Placements
Borrowed/Paid Foster Homes
Agency Foster Homes
Independent Living: The Independent Living Program is facilitated by one Independent Living Coordinator who is
supervised by the Residential Unit Supervisor. The IL worker serves youth from 16 to 18 years of age. The worker also
provides IL services to any young adult age 18 to 21 who exits from Mahoning County Children Services care and request services. Contracted providers are mandated to provide IL services to our youth in those placement settings.
The IL Coordinator assists youth in preparation for adulthood. Services range from providing assistance in securing
housing to linking the youth with vocational and education supports. The IL Coordinator assist youth who want to
transition back into the community upon discharge from an out of county setting when they reach the age of majority. Independent Living Services are provided to children who emancipate from foster care up to the age 21. Services
provided to the young adults vary based upon the IL plan which is developed with them.
2014 Legal Report
Attorney Lori Shells and Kerry Limbian, Legal Representatives
Mahoning County Children Services is represented in Juvenile Court by Attorney Lori Shells, Assistant
Mahoning County Prosecutor and Kerry Limbian Assistant Mahoning County Prosecutor. Attorney Shells
meets with agency staff regarding handling of cases, new statutes, case law and court decisions. In addition, they have attended conferences and seminars to
stay abreast of new laws and legislation.
In 2014, Mahoning County Children Services continued to file numerous cases in the Mahoning County Juvenile Court involving custody transfer to relatives or
interested third parties, both temporary and permanent custody to the agency, and court-ordered protective supervision by the agency. The majority of our
cases in Juvenile Court continue to involve children
whose parents are unable to provide adequate care for
them, necessitating agency intervention.
Legal Statistics
Number of Court Hearings Attended
Children Placed in Care Under Juvenile Rule
Agreements for Voluntary Care
ExParte Orders
Commitments to Custody of a Relative
Commitments to Custody of a Non-Relative
Temporary Commitments to Children Services
Permanent Surrenders
Permanent Commitments to Children Services
Orders for Planned Permanent Living Arrangement
Court-Ordered Protective Supervision Granted
Cases in the Court of Appeals
2014 Human Resource Statistics
Susan Babinec, Human Resource Specialist
At the conclusion of 2014, the agency had 117 employees on staff to serve and support the services of children
and families in Mahoning County.
Currently, there are 7 Administrative Staff, 8 Management/Supervisors, 2 Group Home Coordinators, 55 Caseworkers, 4 Family Service Aides, 22 group home staff and 19 support staff. All caseworkers possess bachelors
degrees in social work or other human services related fields. Supervisory staff possess masters degrees.
Financial Report for the Year Ending December 31, 2014
Melinda N. Posterli, Fiscal Officer
2014 Community Cup
2014 Community Cup—Swim Team
2014 Community Cup
Submitted in Accordance with Section 5153.14 of the Ohio Revised Code
Mahoning County Children Services
222 West Federal Street
Youngstown, Ohio 44503
330.941.8888 Phone
330.941.8787 Fax

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