Summit County Children Services has one of the most difficult tasks in any community. The agency is responsible for investigating reports of child abuse and neglect and intervening to ensure the safety of children. To children in physical and emotional pain, the agency, in effect, is the face of the community, their safe haven when they take the brunt of family dysfunctions.
The task is demanding, and the agency continues to perform its role well, helping families become more supportive, removing children in immediate danger and protecting them until they can be returned safely to family or kin or are placed temporarily or permanently in safer situations.
Children Services is asking voters to renew for six years an existing levy of 2.25 mills. Issue 73 generates more than 60 percent of the agency’s operating budget. The levy is not a new tax and will not add to a taxpayer’s current bill for the agency, which is less than $6 a month on a $100,000 house.
We urge approval of Issue 73 to ensure that Children Services not only is able to sustain critical services but also has the capacity to develop effective programs that serve the best interest of vulnerable children (such as Father Factor, the innovative effort to bring fathers into the picture).
Providing the range of services essential for fragile families — from investigative and protective services to foster care, adoptions and transitional services for young adults — is labor intensive and expensive. The work is made more challenging still by hard economic times and uncertainties about future levels of funding.
The leadership at the agency has been resourceful and responsive, anticipating early the looming funding cuts. For the past few years, they have reorganized the agency and restructured programs to slow the growth in expenses, at the same time improving the quality of services. Among other things, they have reduced staff and labor costs, resolving issues without destabilizing conflicts. An agreement with Akron Children’s Hospital to take over health and dental services has enabled the agency to close its on-site clinic for significant savings in personnel and operating costs.
Children Services has demonstrated fiscal discipline in a difficult time. Renewing Issue 73 on Nov. 6 will ensure the good work continues.