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Columbus, OH 43215 — 614-224-5802

ODJFS makes $15 million available for county frontline workforce

Responding to the unprecedented workforce crisis in children services, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services is making $15 million available to county agencies to recruit and retain frontline staff.

Funding will be administered by PCSAO and is available by allocation for a flexible menu of interventions through June 30, 2023, including:

  • Sign-on and/or retention bonus programs
  • Student loan and/or tuition payments
  • Local media campaigns intended to support or recruit the workforce
  • Activities targeting agency culture and climate, including programs addressing mental, physical and emotional health issues
  • Purchase of virtual reality (VR) headsets to offer candidates a realistic job preview
  • Caseworker supervisor coaching or training intended to build supportive supervision skills
  • Referral bonuses for employees who refer successful recruits
  • Transcription services to increase efficiency for case documentation
  • Other solutions to recruit and retain children services caseworkers

In a letter to county commissioners and council members, ODJFS Director Matt Damschroder called for creativity and flexibility to solve the workforce crisis. “The challenges faced by those dealing with children and families in complex and sometimes dangerous situations are among the most difficult faced by any worker anywhere,” he said. “[County children services directors] may approach you with various ideas to address their workforce concerns. I encourage you, as a county leader, to keep an open mind, support innovations, and engage with them in problem solving to effectively address these issues.”

Citing PCSAO’s February research report, Building a 21st Century Children Services Workforce, PCSAO Executive Director Angela Sausser expressed gratitude to Damschroder and Gov. Mike DeWine for responding to the crisis with evidence-based interventions that will help county agencies compete with the private sector. “Critical frontline staff are not just leaving their agencies, but leaving the field of child protective services due to a complex combination of stress, long hours, compensation, challenges finding placement for youth in care and other issues,” Sausser said. “We appreciate the administration’s action to provide counties with new tools for recruiting and retaining these essential workers.”