PREBLE COUNTY — Promise 686, an organization based upon Psalm 68:6, regarding God setting the lonely in families, encouraged individuals and organizations to support local child welfare staff during the month of October.
Promise 686 works with local churches and other organizations to create Family Advocacy Ministries or “FAMs” to support local kinship or foster families caring for kids. Currently, there have been FAM volunteers trained at Salem Lutheran Church, Ware’s Chapel and Republican Probity Women, with two active FAMs serving local families.
The FAMs and several Preble County individuals who are working with Children Services professionally, including a representative from the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program, sponsored local child welfare staff to paint pottery pieces at Paint the Towne.
“Thanks for doing this. They really needed it,” said Children Services Ongoing Unit Supervisor Ashleigh Cravens. “It is much better than the staff being at the office at 8 p.m.” When appropriate placements cannot be found for children, caseworkers have to spend the night with the kids at their office, which they did seven times within the past two months.
An appreciation breakfast made up of Jane Marshall’s famous cinnamon rolls completed the events to appreciation month.
“I wanted to help honor the caseworkers for all their dedication and service to the children and families of Preble County,” said Marshall. “They have a tough, tough job and deserve to be recognized for all their hard work. I also want to thank Mary Warrick for her work through FAM in organizing this caseworker appreciation!”
It is important that Children Services caseworkers are seen and know that their work and impact on the county’s children is valued. Caseworker turnover rate across the state is extremely high, with 1 in 4 leaving the position in 2016 and 2017. According to The Ohio State University, this turnover rate is higher than other states’ average turnover rates of 14-22 percent. Unreasonably high caseloads leaving little room to build relationships with families and experiencing vicarious trauma, contribute to the turnover rate.
Nationally, when there was a caseworker change on a child’s case, “[t]he chance of achieving permanency decreased from 74.5 percent to 17.5 percent. Research suggests that disruptions in casework services, due to changes in family service workers, is associated with the increased rates of foster care drift” (Murphy, Van Zyl, Collins-Camargo, & Sullivan, 2012). This means 75 out of 100 kids who have the same caseworker are likely to find a loving, permanent home. Only 18 out of 100 kids are likely to find permanency with high caseworker turnover.
At any given point, there are roughly 100 kids whose parent is Preble County. A Preble County Children Services caseworker has to visit these kids wherever they are living on a monthly basis. They have to see parents every month, and see them where they are living every-other-month. Roughly three-fourths of the kids in paid placements are placed outside of Preble County. The lack of local foster homes contribute to this statistic. Statistically, 50 percent of foster families stop fostering within the first year, but if they have some type of support like found in a FAM, 90 percent of foster families continue to foster.
In addition to starting a FAM, voters can support Preble County Children in the upcoming election by voting ‘yes’ on Issue 6. Issue 6 provides a portion of the local placement costs, adoption assistance payments, and items not covered by other funds for the placement and care of Preble County children. No administrative costs are covered by the levy — no salaries, no building repairs or maintenance, no benefits. Issue 6 will cost the Preble County taxpayer $5.50 annually per $100,000 property value. For more information on Promise 686, contact me at 937-839-2333 or at [email protected].