Children Services Levy Up For Renewal

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At Tuesday’s general election, Pike County voters will be asked to vote for renewal of the Pike County Children Services levy.

The levy, which is a one and five-tenths mill, 10-year levy, commencing in 2014, will not raise taxes, and according to Phyllis Amlin-Snyder, executive director of Pike County Children Services, the biggest part of the money from the levy will be used to help with the cost of placing children in foster care, which she said can be quite expensive. She said recently that often children have disabilities or other special needs which make their placement costs higher

The local levy also helps provide other services, including clothing, counseling, food, cleaning supplies, medical expenses, and preventative services that help educate families about how to prevent certain issues from becoming a problem in their families.

“It can even be used for rent or utilities for families that we’re working with to be able to keep children in their homes if those are the only barriers,” Amlin-Snyder said, adding that it is the goal of Children Services either to be able to keep children in their homes or to be able to reunify them back with their family if at all possible.

The levy was first passed 10 years ago and accounts for about 50 percent of the agency’s funding. Children Services also receives funding from the federal and state governments, but the agency has sustained cuts in funding during the last 10 years or so, according to Amlin-Snyder.

During 2013, 49 percent of the cases handled by Pike County Children Services were cases of neglect. Physical abuse accounted for 32 percent of the cases, and sexual abuse accounted for 17 percent of cases, with about two percent of cases involving courtesy requests from other agencies or cases that do not fall into the other categories.

In 2013, 49 percent of the cases were also reportedly drug-related, which is up from 46 percent of cases that were drug-related in 2012. Amlin-Snyder said recently that Children Services has been inundated with families dealing with drug issues.

“If they are unable to care for the children effectively, that almost always necessitates removal and a lot of services to be in place to help them be able to get their children back,” she said. “It’s a very lengthy process, usually.”