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Central Ohio Regional Statistics

The purpose of the Child Well-Being Needs Assessment (CWBNA) is to learn about the well-being of the child and family population, identify contributing factors or higher risk contributors to poorer outcomes for children, and determine what assets and resources are available to improve child well-being in Ohio.

As part of the planning process each region must inform the development of a comprehensive needs assessment that communicates the needs identified in the region’s respective counties. This report represents the culmination of numerous data collection efforts to develop a comprehensive needs assessment for the Central Ohio region.

Collaborative Process for Sharing and Analyzing Data

This needs assessment was developed through a collaborative process of collecting and analyzing data, involving many sectors of the community – state and local government, non-profits, community foundations, health care providers, academia, the state health department.

The Central Ohio prevention planning process relied on data from multiple sources, both qualitative and quantitative, to identify child abuse and neglect prevention priorities. More than 61 service providers and prevention specialists participated in an online survey and/or a community forum and 78 caregivers and community members responded to an online survey. Secondary quantitative data analysis used data sources related to child maltreatment and well-being from federal, state, and local sources.

The intent of the needs assessment process was to identify significant trends, issues, and developments in child well-being, identifying current strategies and gaps in service throughout the region. During the process, information was collected using a variety of methods — public data and analytical mapping tools, online surveys, and listening sessions — to identify a list of regional needs. Sources of data for this report include the Ohio Department of Health, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, the Ohio Department of Education, the Bureau of the Census’ American Community Survey, the Ohio Development Services Agency, the Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Feeding America in partnership with the USDA Economic Research Service. The most current data and five-year trend data were obtained wherever possible. Additional effort was made to standardize key indicators by county for comparison purposes and to enable targeted strategy implementation. Please refer to the appendices for the survey, focus group, and secondary data summaries.

This analysis of population trends and projections in the Central Region reiterates the priority risk factors regarding the prevalence of poverty and substance use/mental health functioning among the families within this region, as highlighted in the 2016 assessment. One in five family risk assessments indicate parental emotional/mental health functioning is a risk contributor to child abuse and neglect over the past three years, while one-quarter of family risk assessments indicate substance use over this same period. In addition, the Region’s youth population will continue to grow over the next twenty years. More specifically, so will the number of children under the age of five. Young children, children under the age of 4, are at higher risk for child abuse and neglect. Furthermore, as this population continues to grow, so will the need for funding to supply parenting education for parents of young children and quality preschool/daycare options, not just to those families who can afford it, but also those families struggling to maintain basic needs.

Review of the data from these sources also results in the identification of the following challenges of child abuse and neglect prevention efforts in the region in 2021.
  • Reports of child abuse and neglect increased from 2016 to 2020.
  • The rate of reports per 1,000 children of child abuse and neglect in Fairfield, Franklin, Knox, and Marion Counties far outpace the State of Ohio and the Region. Total substantiated allegations of child abuse and neglect have sightly increased over the 4-year period of 2016-2019.
  • Family assessments where substance use and emotional/mental functioning are a risk contributor to child abuse and neglect remained steady in the Region over the past three years. However, Crawford, Fayette, and Richland Counties reported substantially higher rates of family assessments where adult emotional/mental health functioning is a risk contributor and Marion, Pickaway, and Richland Counties reported much higher rates of adult substance use.
  • In focus groups and surveys, service providers and caregivers agree there is a need for family supportive services like childcare, substance abuse/mental health treatment, transportation, financial assistance, and respite care.
  • Service providers feel that limited funding and restrictive funding negatively impacts their ability to serve families.
  • Five counties in the Central Ohio Region (Fayette, Franklin, Marion, Crawford, and Knox Counties) have higher percentages of children living in poverty than the Central Region or the State of Ohio.
  • Kindergarten Readiness Overall Average Score in the region is slightly higher than the state average – 266.8 and 266.6, respectively. However, readiness scores lag the region and the state in six of the region’s counties – Crawford, Fairfield, Fayette, Knox, Marion, and Richland Counties.

Access the full Needs Assessment for a comprehensive view of the scope of the child abuse and neglect issue in Central Ohio.