UPDATE: Washington County Children Services board meeting draws dozens to talk merger

MARIETTA, Ohio (WTAP) - UPDATE 11/9/18

Washington County Children's Services board meeting draws a crowd Thursday night.

The public turned out the the children's services building in Marietta to hear from the board as well as the county commissioners about the proposed merger with the county's jobs and family services department.

Members of the public, ranging from past and present caseworkers to foster parents, gave input and also listened to the commissioners.

They believe merging the two departments would allow them to leverage monies better to obtain more state and federal funding.

But the board says they heard nothing from the commissioners that convinced them this is the right move or would save the county money.

"I know you've asked for additional information," county commission president Rick Walters said. "I will do my best to get you that information I will call Adams (County). We're not here, we don't want to fight. We want to do what's best for the county and we just ask everyone to have an open mind and work with us."

"I'm still surprised with the decision to move froward with the redesignation of our agency," board chair Tim Loughry said, "because even tonight we weren't provided any information that would support this redesignation being beneficial to the children of Washington County or the citizens of Washington County."

Loughry made a public records request to the commissioners for pertinent information on this decision. Commissioner Walters says they are complying with that request and plan to have those documents to the board by Friday.

Meanwhile, the board hopes to have enough information to make a vote by the next scheduled board meeting on December 13.

UPDATE 11/5/18

The Washington County Children's Services Board is not happy with the proposed merger with the county's Job and Family Services department.

Board chairman Tim Loughry says they had no idea the county commissioners were considering the move.

The commissioners voted on October 25 to designate the administrative functions of children's services over to the county's jobs and family services.

Loughry says the board doesn't know what the commissioners have based their decision on.

"The information that we've sought indicates that it would actually cost the county money to merge," Loughry said, in a phone interview. "And that comes from our state fiscal auditor, who provided that information and everyone that we as a board have talked to have said that this is a bad idea, so I don't know why they would do it."

"I don't know what benefit it would have and I don't know how it could change our placement costs."

The children services board will discuss the merger more at its meeting Thursday, October 8 at 4:30 at its main office at 204 Davis Ave.

ORIGINAL STORY 10/25/18

The Washington County commissioners designated a new entity as the county's public children services agency.

At the weekly meeting, the commission voted to designate the administrative functions of children services over to the Department of Job and Family Services. Currently, a board of private citizens has carried out administrative duties.

But the commissioners say this switch will enhance services and increase efficiency and oversight of public funds.

"Our goal as the board of commissioners is to make sure first of all the children in Washington County stay in the families if at all possible," commissioner Ron Feathers said. "And we want those families to be able to take advantage of all the opportunities the state has available for them. So working directly with jobs and families services, and the director there, we know that they're going to receive better service."

The change takes affect December 27.