Hello Friends:

Thanks for taking some time to catch up on what is happening at Fairfield County Job and Family Services. 

The team has been doing an amazing job of serving our community while keeping themselves and others safe during the pandemic. The majority of our staff are still in a teleworking status as they are able to accomplish their work efficiently and effectively remotely. Customers are able to fully access services via phone and internet from the safety of their home. For services that require in person interaction, we have COVID-19 safety protocols in place in order to provide safe interaction. These are certainly challenging times and the JFS team continues to rise to the challenge and meet the needs of the children, families, and adults that we serve.

In this newsletter, you will find information on how to make a difference by donating to our Annual Holiday Donation Drive for Protective Services. This year, you can even make an online, tax-deductible, donation. We are always amazed with the outpouring of generosity and community support that makes the holidays special for our children, families, and elderly.

With National Adoption Month coming up in November, we want to thank all of our amazing foster, kinship, and adoptive families for the support they offer our children. This is a special time to celebrate families that have grown through adoption and raise awareness of the more than 125,000 children waiting in foster care in the United States.

Take care and stay safe,
Make a Wish Come True in 2020!
Children, families, and elderly adults linked with Protective Services this holiday season need our help. The support in previous years from our Fairfield County community has been unbelievable, and we hope to be able to continue that support this year. Protective Services staff will soon begin gathering wish lists from children, families and elderly adults and we are searching for donors to sponsor them!   

Have you thought about providing a donation or sponsoring a child, family, or elderly
adult for Christmas? If so, please contact Heather Funk at 740-652-7689 or email at heather.funk@jfs.ohio.gov.  

YOU CAN GIVE TO THE HOLIDAY DONATION DRIVE BY CLICKING THE "DONATE TODAY" BUTTON BELOW! This feature allows prospective donors to help a child, family or elder adult in our community without leaving their home!
Child Support Hearings During Pandemic
The Fairfield County Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) has been working diligently these past few months to ensure that child support hearings continue, uninterrupted, despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The implementation of telephonic hearings, hearings via GoToMeeting, and numerous social distancing measures have all contributed to a safe and responsible child support hearing process.

The CSEA transitioned from in-person hearings to telephonic administrative child support hearings in May of this year. These administrative hearings are necessary to establish and modify child support orders. As a means to ensure Ohioans retained access to vital family resources such as child support, Ohio passed House Bill 197 on March 27, 2020, which enabled the transition to telephonic administrative hearings. The Fairfield County CSEA’s local hearing officer has noticed an increase in hearing attendance and civility as a result of the remote nature of these hearings.

Court systems throughout Ohio are experimenting with virtual hearings, using technology such as GoToMeeting and Zoom. In Fairfield County, our Juvenile Court and Court of Common Pleas - General Division are regularly conducting hearings in this manner. These two courts are responsible for the criminal enforcement of child support, both felony and misdemeanor. As a result, the CSEA has been participating in weekly Misdemeanor Criminal Nonsupport Probation Review Hearings and Felony Nonsupport Hearings via GoToMeeting.

The CSEA continues to conduct civil support enforcement hearings in-person, in the courtroom presided over by Magistrate Steven Jackson of the Fairfield County Court of Common Pleas -Domestic Relations Division. The CSEA has taken a variety of social distancing precautions to ensure the hearing process is as safe as possible. In an effort to prevent parties from congregating indoors, the hearing participants are not permitted entry into the Fairfield County Government Services Center until five minutes prior to the hearing’s scheduled start time. Parties are required to wear masks and if not wearing one upon entry, a mask is immediately provided by the Fairfield County Sherriff’s Department Deputy on duty. Once the parties have arrived, they are immediately escorted to a reconfigured courtroom, where they are seated at tables placed more than six feet apart from one another. 

While these accommodations have required some extra effort and planning, CSEA continues to collect child support at an impressive rate. Current child support has been collected at a rate of 69% this year, which is almost identical to last year’s mark and the past-due collection percentage has actually increased nearly 10% from the previous year.
Community Services Kinship Assistance
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge for everyone far and wide. At the beginning of the pandemic, a woman who had recently been granted custody of her two nephews, applied for Kinship TANF Cash Assistance. At the interview with the Kinship Eligibility Specialist, we found out that she had recently lost her employment after she had taken the boys into her home. She was not familiar with how public assistance worked or what programs were available. We were able to offer her Kinship TANF Cash Assistance, Food Assistance and Medicaid for her and the children. She also expressed concerns of not being able to pay her rent and utilities, she was able to receive help with these expenses through COVID-19 PRC Disaster Services.

After a few months of job searching, she was able to find a new job! She was excited about her new job but realized she now needed childcare for the children who were on summer break. After reviewing the childcare programs that were available, we determined the children were eligible for Kinship Childcare Reimbursement. This program reimbursed her for the childcare expenses she incurred for the children so that she could return to work.  

Through our annual school clothes voucher program, the children were eligible to receive two school clothes vouchers to assist with the cost of school supplies and clothing. Her nephews had come into the home with nothing and although she had obtained employment, she was still struggling to afford clothes and supplies. Through the assistance she received, she was able to purchase the necessary supplies for school, provide meals for the children, had reliable health insurance during the pandemic, secured child care, and was able to pay her rent and utilities while she was unemployed through PRC.
Simon Welker, Community Services Kinship Eligibility Specialist
How long have you been with the agency and in this position?
I have been with the agency for four years and in this position for one year.

What is the most rewarding part of
your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is having the opportunity to get to know my customers on a personal basis and seeing how the assistance that is provided makes a difference.

If you could be a superhero, who would you be and why?
I would be the Flash, the ability to run at the speed of sound could come in handy while navigating daily life!
Ohio Means Jobs Center Open
It's a good time for job seekers to find a new or better career path . . .
The Ohio Means Jobs (OMJ) Center of Fairfield County is open and ready to serve customers who are looking for a job or new career path. Following a two-month shutdown due to COVID-19, the OMJ Center reopened on June 1 for any work-related services such as career exploration, job searching, resume development, filing unemployment, meeting with a Career Advisor, and exploring training options.

OMJ staff are committed to maintaining the safest environment possible during the pandemic which includes maintaining social distancing at all times, requiring masks for all staff and customers, frequent hand washing, and regular sanitizing of all surfaces.

Right now, is a great time for job seekers to find a new or better career path. Many local employers are currently hiring in the areas of Manufacturing, Healthcare, and Skilled Trade. There are currently over 1,500 job openings within a 10-mile radius of Lancaster posted on www.OhioMeansJobs.com. OMJ staff are ready to assist customers regardless of their level of education and past work experience.
Hunger Games Food Drive a Great Success
Special thanks to JFS staff for helping make our Annual Hunger Games Food Drive such a great success this year! We were able to donate 1,537 food items to Fairfield County 2-1-1 Information & Referral Services. Pictured right are some of our Food Drive Committee Members.
November is National Adoption Month
National Adoption Month is a month set aside to raise awareness about the urgent need for adoptive families for children and youth in foster care.

National Adoption Month dates back to 1976 when Massachusetts Governor Mike Dukakis announced the first Adoption Week. Governor Dukakis' idea grew in popularity and it quickly spread nationwide. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first National Adoption Week, and in 1995, under President Bill Clinton, the week was expanded to the entire month of November.
In recent years, Fairfield County Protective Services has celebrated Adoption Month in collaboration with Fairfield County Juvenile/Probate Court. Adoptive families and kids schedule to have adoptions finalized on National Adoption Day, and court personnel pull out all the stops to make sure this is a day to remember. Adoptees and their families are provided the opportunity to celebrate together, along with the court and Protective Services staff.
This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, things look a bit different. Adoptions will be held prior to National Adoption Day to assure appropriate social distancing and precautions to keep everyone safe. The adoption team at Protective Services has worked hard to finalize eight adoptions this year and hope to achieve a total of 11 by year’s end. 
Anyone wanting to know more about adoption can contact Fairfield County Protective Services at 740-652-7887 and ask to speak to a member of the Permanency team.
Kinship and Adoption Navigator
Program Launches
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services partnered with Kinnect, a private non-profit agency based in Cleveland, to create OhioKAN (Ohio Kinship and Adoption Navigator Program). OhioKAN is a flexible and responsive kinship and adoption navigator program designed to support children, youth, and their families. Building on the premise that families are inherently capable of finding solutions to circumstances and challenges they face, the OhioKAN program will take an inclusive, engaging and genuine approach to strengthening families and their networks.

September marks a very exciting milestone for OhioKAN with the soft launch of the OhioKAN program in Fairfield County. Now through Oct. 5, OhioKAN will be connecting with kinship and adoption families who are seeking support navigating the resources available to them. On Oct. 5, the OhioKAN program will officially be launched statewide. 

To learn more about the OhioKAN Program, kinship caregivers and adoptive families can call
1-844-OHIO-KAN (1-844-644-6526). Additional information and resources may also be found at https://www.kinnectohio.org/ohiokan/