MIAMI COUNTY —The Board of Miami County Commissioners unanimously approved merging the Miami County Children’s Services Agency with the Miami County Department of Job and Family Services during the board’s meeting on Thursday afternoon.
Oversight of the Children’s Services Agency will be re-designated from the Miami County Children’s Service Board to the Department of Job and Family Services with the official merger effective on July 17.
“This board of commissioners has determined that bringing Miami County Children’s Services duties under the Miami County Department of Job and Family Services is the most efficient and effective operational structure to continue to protect and promote the welfare of all children, preventing the neglect, abuse, or exploitation of children as children deserve nurturing environments in which their physical, emotional, education, and social needs are met in Miami County,” Commissioners’ Administrator Leigh Williams said.
The Miami County Board of Children’s Services voted 4-1 on April 11 in approval of this merger with the county’s Department of Job and Family Services.
As part of their vote, the board also suggested staying on in an advisory capacity during the transition.
Board member Rochelle Bednarczuk cast the only no vote on April 11 and described the decision as “a tough pill to swallow.”
The merger was proposed following the firing of the organization’s previous director, June Cannon, last month after allegations of fraud and theft.
During the commissioners’ meeting on Thursday, Williams went over some of the advantages that the commissioners felt the merger between Children’s Services and Job and Family Services would provide, including the following:
• It will avoid duplication of administrative duties and costs.
• It will bring the Children’s Services operation under the policies and rules adopted by the commissioners, making county operations more consistent.
• The county’s Human Resource’s Department can ensure compliance with policies and laws along with consistency throughout departments on employment related issues.
• It promotes efficient fiscal operations and use of funds of both operations.
• It will provide one director, who reports to the commissioners, to promote greater coordination of effort between agencies who provide services to support families in Miami County.
“I know that charges facing the fired director of CSB (Children’s Services Board) were somewhat of a shock to everybody,” commissioner Greg Simmons said. “It was not an easy task to vote to have Children’s Services to merge with Job and Family Services, but we would like to thank you and your board for this exceptional demonstration of support for the children and families that we serve in Miami County.”
Simmons went on to compliment the board and the agency for its “excellent service.”
Simmons said that the board of commissioners do not expect there will be much of a change in the employees’ positions at Children’s Services.
“We want you to continue the excellent work with our children. You make Miami County a better, safer place for the children that you serve,” Simmons said. Simmons also thanked Carol McDonald for being the acting director during this transition.
Simmons said that, as a former Children’s Services employee himself, “I know there’s a great fear of the unknown, but I think this is going to be a very, very good merge, and there’s not going to be a whole lot of change.”
“I want to personally and publicly acknowledge the superb performance of the supervisors and the employees of Children’s Services prior to and during the impact realized by the wrongdoing of one single individual,” Children’s Services Board member Chris Long said during the meeting on Thursday. “The welfare of children under the care of these very dedicated and focused persons continues to be the driving motivation for each one.”
Commissioner Jack Evans then thanked the Children’s Services Board for their dedication.
“I know you all know and feel that it’s in the best interest of everyone, but it’s always difficult to close down an operation, and to you, I thank you for your courage to do that,” Evans said. While addressing the Children’s Services staff, Evans said, “We are very fortunate in this county to have a staff that performed well.”
Evans went on to address those who utilize Children’s Services — including the children, foster parents, and adopting parents — and to say that they do not expect there will be drastic changes in those services.
Evans also thanked the Department of Job and Family Services for taking on this responsibility, saying that the “oversight and structure” the department will provide will be an asset.
Commissioner Ted Mercer also thanked the Children’s Services Board, saying, “These board members took the time and generously provided their service and leadership to the children in need. Many of you have served many years. Thank you for your public service to children and parents and our community. Your dedication and commitment to Miami County and the Children’s Services Board over the years is greatly appreciated.”
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org