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OCTF Newsletter - November 2019

Executive Director Note

October marked my one-year anniversary as director of the Trust Fund. This year has flown by! As I reflect on our achievements and successes over the past year, I am amazed at the volume and quality of the work that the OCTF team and our partners have accomplished.

In January 2019, we launched our new website, which contains a wealth of information about each of our eight child abuse and neglect prevention regions. It also highlights prevention programs and provider information, lists available funding opportunities, contains resource articles on a variety of prevention-related topics, and more!

Throughout the spring, we worked closely with our regional coordinators to create a simplified and equitable process for allocating funding through the regional model. We also developed programmatic guidance materials for councils, launched a successful April campaign, worked to improve cross-system partnerships, and took steps to ensure a sustainable budget

Over the summer, our efforts to increase funding proved successful when OCTF was granted a $1 million TANF earmark in each year of the biennium. This additional funding has allowed the OCTF Board to increase the regional SFY 2021 allocation by $300,000, compared to SFY 2020 funding. Furthermore, the increased funding has allowed OCTF to launch an Early Childhood Safety Initiative, in partnership with the Ohio Department of Health. This offers funding to support parent education and concrete safety-related supports to low-income parents and caregivers.

Additionally, as Ohio’s Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention state lead, OCTF has been able to leverage this federal funding stream to make an additional $500,000 in discretionary grant funding available for regions to apply for through a competitive grant process. Last but not least, we applied for and were awarded one of nine highly competitive federal Community Collaborations to Strengthen and Preserve Families grants. More information about this can be found on page 3.

Throughout the year, our staff presented at four professional conferences, hosted a variety of professional trainings, and improved our use of data with the expansion of the Child Well-Being Data Dashboard. As we look ahead to next year, I am excited to begin working with our regional coordinators on the intentional incorporation of continuous quality improvement practices into our work. We have established a firm foundation for partnership, which I am confident will lead to many additional successes as we continue to work together to invest in strong communities, healthy families and safe children.

In closing, I would like to offer a heartfelt thanks to all our partners, board members and stakeholders for the hard work you do each and every day to prevent child abuse and neglect and improve the safety and well-being of Ohio’s children and families.

Planning for April 2020

Each April during National Child Abuse Prevention Month, the OCTF leads a statewide campaign to raise awareness of the impact that child abuse and neglect have on Ohio’s children and to communicate that we all have a role to play in preventing child abuse and neglect.

This April, the Trust Fund will once again encourage all adults to “Be a Hero in the Eyes of a Child − one simple act of encouragement at a time.” Through this call to action, the OCTF will utilize a variety of strategies to engage Ohioans throughout the state.

In recognizing that adults throughout Ohio are “Everyday Heroes,” the OCTF established the Everyday Ohio Hero Awards to honor individuals who dedicate their time, effort or lives to the prevention of child abuse. An Everyday Ohio Hero is an individual or group who has made a significant impact on child abuse and child neglect prevention through their everyday acts.

The OCTF and our Regional Child Abuse and Child Neglect Prevention Councils will seek nominations for outstanding adults, youth, and community or corporate groups that have made a significant impact in their local communities by supporting vulnerable families and preventing child abuse and child neglect.

The Everyday Ohio Heroes nomination forms will become available on the OCTF website on Jan. 1, 2020. They will be due by Feb. 12, 2020.

As part of our campaign, we will once again ask youth throughout Ohio to join us in raising awareness of the importance of child abuse and neglect prevention. Youth will be invited to develop powerful and creative artistic expressions that demonstrate this theme and show that anyone can “Be a Hero in the Eyes of a Child.” OCTF will seek bold, innovative and exciting pieces that educate the public and inspire them to take action! These creative pieces will be used throughout the year to raise awareness. OCTF will begin accepting submissions for the Youth Art Contest on Jan. 1, 2020. All submissions will be due by Feb. 12, 2020. 

Winners for both the Everyday Ohio Heroes contest and the Youth Art Contest will be notified between Feb. 24 and 28, 2020. They will be honored at the campaign kick-off event scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon on April 2, 2020, at the Ohio Statehouse Atrium.

Family First Act Updates

The federal Family First Prevention Services Act was adopted in 2018 and will be implemented nationwide by October 1, 2021. Through dramatic funding changes, it puts the focus on prevention and recognizes that often families can provide safe and loving care if given access to needed mental health services, substance abuse treatment or improved parenting skills.

Ohio has involved more than 200 stakeholders in its Family First planning efforts. A Leadership Advisory Committee has been meeting monthly, and many subcommittees and workgroups have been hard at work. The OCTF team has been very involved in the Prevention Services Subcommittee. OCTF Executive Director Lindsay Williams, OCTF Program Manager Nicole Sillaman and Matt Kresic, Executive Director of Homes for Kids, facilitate the subcommittee’s In-Home Parenting Workgroup.

Last month, the Prevention Services Subcommittee had a two-day retreat facilitated by the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP). The group made impressive progress discussing its recommendations for three important decisions: the candidacy for foster care definition, evidence-based prevention programming and trauma-informed practice. They submitted the recommendations to the Leadership Advisory Committee for a vote. At the Oct. 17 Leadership Advisory Committee meeting, the committee weighed in on the decisions and was impressed with the amount of work completed at the retreat. For more information visit the Family First webpage.

Northeast Ohio Federal Grant

The OCTF is excited to announce that we have been awarded one of nine federal Community Collaborations to Strengthen and Preserve Families grants issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families. The OCTF will receive $543,250 in the first year and over $2.71 million over five years to develop and implement a community-based “one-stop shop” of prevention services in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

As a result of the grant, at-risk families in those counties will receive services aimed at preventing their involvement with the children services system. In the coming weeks, the OCTF will convene local teams of stakeholders and partners to begin the planning process. To learn more, see our press release.

Competitive Funding Opportunity for Regional Prevention Councils

Each year, the OCTF submits an application for a federal Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention grant. In its FFY 2020 application, to align with the upcoming implementation of the federal Family First Act, the OCTF applied for $500,000 in competitive funding for regional prevention councils. Local councils may apply for $25,000, $50,000, $75,000 or $100,000 to support in-home, evidence-based parent support and skill-building programs.

Interested councils must complete the grant application by Feb. 1, 2020. If awarded, projects can begin after July 1, 2020. If you have questions, email OCTFgrants@jfs.ohio.gov.

Prevent Child Abuse America Conference and Presentation

In September, OCTF staff and partners from Wright State University attended, exhibited and presented at Prevent Child Abuse America’s annual conference. This year’s theme was “Moving Upstream.” Many presentations highlighted ways researchers, state and local governments, and nonprofits address child abuse and neglect through a public health approach.

The OCTF highlighted its April “Be A Hero” campaign and shared its locally developed curriculums. Attendees from other states were interested in learning more about Ohio’s Human Trafficking Prevention Curriculum for At-Risk Youth, as well as Ohio’s mandated reporter curriculum and the Keeping Children Safe program, which is primarily intended for early care and education settings.

Program Manager Nicole Sillaman, in collaboration with Jane Dockery and Carol Murray from Wright State University, presented “Innovative Practices at the State Level: Developing a Child Well-Being Data Dashboard.” They reviewed the Trust Fund’s transition to a regional model and illustrated how Ohio uses data to inform its programmatic decisions through its regional model.

PCSAO Conference and Presentation

Earlier this fall, OCTF Executive Director Lindsay Williams and Program Manager Nicole Sillaman presented at the annual Public Children Services Association of Ohio (PCSAO) statewide conference. This year’s theme was “Champions for Children and Families.” Their presentation, “A Strengths-Based Perspective for Bridging the Continuum of Care,” focused on the similarities between CSSP’s Strengthening Families protective factors framework for child abuse and neglect prevention and the protective capacities for adult caregivers involved with the children services system. Through breakout activities and discussions, case workers had the opportunity to review family case examples through a strengths-based lens, connecting each example to a protective factor.

Regional Spotlight: Southwest Ohio Regional Prevention Council

The Southwest Ohio Regional Prevention Council provides services to Adams, Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton, Highland and Warren counties. Since SFY 2019, the council’s primary strategy has been an expanded kinship navigator model, targeting informal caregivers outside the children services system while also providing supports for formal kinship placement families.

The council works with four service providers: Adams Brown Community Action Program, Butler County Educational Service Center, Beech Acres Parenting Center and Highland County Community Action Organization. Each provider offers kinship families three types of services: (1) kinship navigation information and referral services, (2) peer support groups and (3) caregiver education via an evidence-based or evidence-informed curriculum. Families can opt for one or more services depending on their needs. Over 300 families received services in the last fiscal year through OCTF funding in Southwest Ohio.

In September, Beech Acres Parenting Center hosted representatives from the U.S. Government Accountability Office and answered questions about the number of grandparents raising children and the challenges they face. To read more see this blog post about this experience.

In addition to funding kinship caregiver supports, the council also provides limited funding to evaluate its kinship caregiver model and to support its “Create a Better Future” awareness campaign.

Caregiver Success Story

A grandmother who had recently taken on the full-time care of three grandchildren reached out to one of Southwest Ohio’s kinship support service providers for information and referrals. The agency resolved her initial need but continued to contact the grandmother, who at first rebuffed their offers of help. Eventually, she agreed to attend a group session for kinship caregivers, where she got to meet others in similar circumstances.

It soon became apparent that the grandmother was overwhelmed financially and working additional hours to make ends meet. She also struggled to find adequate child care and to help her grandchildren manage the effects of the trauma they had experienced. They had frequent outbursts and night-mares, as well as school-related concerns. Through the grand¬mother’s involvement in the kinship group, her grandchildren began receiving counseling services through a local service provider, and the grandmother found a trusted network of support. Since their grandmother became involved in the kinship group, the children have acclimated to their new home, and their relationship with their grandmother has flourished.