New Philadelphia, Ohio - Tuscarawas County Job and Family Services officials say some recent state policy changes will allow them to provide more support for children in kinship placements.
Director David Haverfield says state lawmakers authorized about $10 million in their most recent biennium budget to provide financial assistance to individuals tasked with caring for a friend or family member’s children, but he says the legislation was written in such a way that very few people could access this funding.
"When the state Department of Job and Family Services wrote the rules, they wrote them so prescriptively that virtually no one would qualify for that," he says. "Over the last year and a half or so, only about half a million dollars of that 10 million dollars has been spent, so there’s a lot of money left."
Haverfield says lawmakers last year decided to rewrite the rules to make it easier for families to access that funding, changing the criteria eligibility and allocating a certain amount of funding to each county.
"It was just people that would qualify for subsidized childcare, so it had a limit of 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, which really limited a lot of the families that take our kids in," he says. The way this is structured now, the child is seen as the assisted scrip, so rather than looking at the caretaker’s income, it just looks at the child, which means that absent a child that has a huge trust fund or something, they’re going to be eligible. The family’s going to be able to get some help for child care, which is a big thing.
Haverfield says he met with commissioners this week to have them approve the agency’s updated Prevention Retention Contingency, or PRC, plan to include this funding. He says they will be able to start getting this money out to families on March 21st.
STACEY CARMANY, TUSCO TV