Children Services Awarded Additional Funding

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Athens County Children Services has been awarded additional funding to help address the impact of the opiate epidemic on children and families. 

The $87,207 in additional state funding is being provided through the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Efficiency and Innovation Fund, and will generate additional federal funds of $46,893.

“This is great news,” said Children Services Executive Director Cathy Hill. “The need is urgent, and we look forward to collaborating with local area partners in developing new and innovative service models to improve outcomes for our Athens County children and families.”

Opiate addiction is clearly reflected in Athens County Children Services data, according to a news release from the agency.

“We have seen the average number of children in agency custody grow from 68 to 86 in 2014,” Hill said. “More children are coming into care, and they are staying in care longer. We are seeing an increase in infants and young children coming into care.”
This is directly related to the opiate epidemic that Athens and other counties in Ohio are facing, according to Hill.

The opiate epidemic is also reflected in the numbers of children who are reunited with their biological parents.
“We are currently only able to reunify about one-third of the children coming into care with their birth family, and that rate is unacceptable,” Hill said. “Our reunification rate should be more than 60 percent.”

With grant funds available immediately, the agency will be releasing requests for proposals in early in January for development of new evidenced-based treatment models and kinship support services for Athens County families.

Athens County Children Services is one of 51 public children services agencies from across Ohio whose proposals were funded. The total amount of state funding to be distributed is $6.8 million.