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The Case for Protecting Children and Promoting Families

By Rev. Donald L. Perryman, Ph.D.
The Truth Contributor

 I don’t know how you could be against ensuring that our children are safe in Toledo. (Lucas County Children Services) have such an incredible task in front of them and they do need the financial support from our citizens.    

                  -  Katie Moline  


Rev. Donald L. Perryman, D.Min.

If ever there was a time to protect children and promote families, it is now.

The COVID-19 pandemic, an unprecedented economic downturn, persistent opioid crisis and related overdose deaths, and contentious political divide have come together to produce a perfect storm of extreme distress. The tragic aftermath has generated a surging crisis of abuse and neglect among children.

Significantly, actual rates of abuse and neglect have dramatically increased, even though reporting is down. The pandemic’s social distancing requirements have reduced children’s attendance and interactions at school, church, healthcare, and other locations that require mandated reporting. The resulting isolation has placed a tremendous mental and emotional strain on children and families.  Even the most fortunate families, the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute says, “are struggling to balance work, parenting, and new homeschooling responsibilities,” resulting from the COVID crisis.

Lucas County Children Services (LCCS) leads the community in protecting children. A big part of that involves stabilizing families by connecting them to services and supports, such as counseling, substance abuse treatment, and housing. LCCS is also recognized statewide and nationally as a leader in child protection. Agency staff participates in several government and independent committees, sharing their expertise and providing legislators with input that is shaping child welfare’s new policies and priorities.

LCCS has the only county-level African-American executive director in Ohio. Director Robin Reese and her leadership team lead Lucas County—and the entire state—in challenging conversations about structural and institutional racism, race inequity, and what needs to be done to eradicate them.

For example, a large part of the organization’s Strategic Plan will address and track progress in the issue of disproportionality within LCCS of African-American children at various stages of care. The agency works toward making the percentage of children in care reflect actual population figures. The number of African-American children in LCCS care is 41 percent. In comparison, African-American children make up just 23 percent of Lucas County’s youth population. There is still work to do, but this is a significant step in the right direction.

As an organization, LCCS has a diverse workforce, especially among its leadership. Half of the agency’s top administrators are African-American. Among those who provide direct services to families, 48 percent are people of color.

The Committee for Children and Lucas County Children Services is requesting approval for Issue 18. This measure is not a new tax, but a straight renewal of an existing 1.8 mill, five-year operating levy. If approved, Issue 18 will provide LCCS with $13.4 million per year—one-quarter of the agency's annual funding—at a very crucial time. Child protection in Ohio—and nationwide—is on the cusp of unprecedented challenges. Under the measure, the owner of a $100,000 home would continue to pay $55.13 per year, or about $1 per week, to provide services that ensure Lucas County children’s safety. LCCS serves one of every eight children and one of every eight families in Lucas County. In 2019, the agency touched the lives of more than 13,600 children.

LCCS walks an intricate and fine line attempting to balance child protection vs. family preservation, two conflicting priorities. This unenviable and often controversial task requires the agency to protect children from physical and emotional risk at the hands of their parents but also understand that children usually thrive with their parents and experience adverse outcomes when they are removed from the home.

Yet, LCCS has worked to be good stewards of tax dollars through innovation and collaboration, finding efficiencies while battling the pandemic’s increasing expenses over the past six months. Examples include:

·         The agency works to keep children who cannot live with parents or relatives in its family foster and treatment foster care homes, rather than in more costly group homes or institutions.

·         LCCS moved its computer systems to the State of Ohio network, providing caseworkers with technology supporting teleworking and virtual meetings. This has not only generated significant cost savings; it has positioned LCCS to adapt to the demands of COVID-19 rapidly.

·         Specialized units such as 30 Days to Family and Family Search and Engagement, are reconnecting children with extended family members when family placement is not an option.

·         Ohio START helps parents kick their substance dependence and remain with their children while they work their treatment plans.

·         The new Parent Empowerment Institute provides caregivers with skills that can strengthen their relationships with their children.

·         By working collaboratively with Lucas County Job and Family Services, LCCS ensures that families needing day care apply for, and receive, any benefits to which they’re entitled, such as day care. 

These are shining examples of leading the community in the protection of children—whether that community is local, regional, or statewide. Issue 18 would bring the necessary dollars to continue that groundbreaking work.

That is why I urge you to support Issue 18, a renewal levy for Lucas County Children Services.

Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, D.Min, at drdlperryman@centerofhopebaptist.org

Note: In the spirit of transparency, I serve on the board of trustees at LCCS.


Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 10/15/20 12:21:57 -0400.



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