EATON — An additional $300,000 from the county’s general fund will be used for child placement by Preble County Children Services.
Preble County Commissioners approved a resolution appropriating $300,000 from the general fund to the general miscellaneous fund during a regular session on Monday, Sept 28. According to officials, the money is needed to help cover the continued rise in cost of child placement for Job and Family Services.
The additional monies requested, along with a request for $327,000 in August, means commissioners have added $627,000 in additional monies to the funds brought in by the current Children Services levy.
Commissioners met with head of Job and Family Services Becky Sorrell and head of Children Services Jeff Centers on Wednesday, Sept. 30, to discuss the continued increase in cost for the placement of children.
The money being transferred to the department is used for the placement of children with behavioral issues or mental health issues who can only be placed in “residential centers” according to Sorrell.
According to Sorrell, the wide range of behavioral issues the department deals with makes it difficult to predict the cost of placing the children — in some cases placement options can be difficult to find.
Once a child is in placement the county is required by the state to visit the child once every two months. Sorrell told commissioners the goal is to always find the “most affordable placement closest to Preble County to help keep both the cost of placing a child down and the cost of the required bi-monthly visits.”
During the meeting, Commissioner Rodney Creech said the issue is not unique to Preble County but is a statewide one, as the cost of placement goes up around the state.
Commissioner Chris Day told Sorrell and Centers, “We are not here to beat you up,” continuing by saying, “As we look at it from here, the dollars keep jumping up, we’ve got to do something here.”
According to Sorrell, the county currently has 11 children in placement who have costs over $100 per day for care. Centers told commissioners the most expensive placement cost is $145,000 a year.
A new Children Services levy is set for the November ballot, as the 1982 levy which brings in about $219,000 per year, is set to expire.
During a meeting on Wednesday, July 8, Sorrell asked commissioners to consider a replacement levy which would cost tax payers $28 per $100,000 of property owned, compared to the current rate of $14.
She estimated, if the replacement levy passes, it would cover about 10 months of placement compared to the current levy which covers about four months.
During the meeting in July, Sorrell said Ohio ranks last in terms of financial support provided for child placement — only providing 8 percent of total costs while the federal government matches 63.02 percent of costs.
Reach Austin Schmidt at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @aschmidt_RH.