Advocating for safe children, stable families, and supportive communities
37 West Broad Street, Suite 1100
Columbus, OH 43215 — 614-224-5802

Testimony highlights need for budget investments

Testimony highlights need for budget investments

An expert panel testified today before the House Finance Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, reinforcing the need for proposed new children services investments in the biennial budget bill, HB 33.

PCSAO’s Executive Director, Angela Sausser (pictured right), thanked Gov. Mike DeWine and the General Assembly for their support in this and previous budgets, and pointed to critical workforce and placement shortages driving up costs and creating trauma for both children and frontline workers. “Last year, PCSAO issued a call to action asking state leaders to develop a shared commitment across systems for these youth with high-acuity needs,” she said. “It’s long past time to develop and implement a comprehensive, rapid-response approach for these youth. We know this worked in Virginia when Gov. Youngkin created a multi-system task force that aggressively worked to reduce the number of children sleeping at agencies awaiting placement by 89% in six months.”

Read Sausser’s full testimony.

Tammy Osborne-Smith, director of Jackson County Job & Family Services (below, second from right), testified to challenges faced by county children services agencies. “Beyond the growing volume of cases and increased costs, over the last decade, cases have become far more complex,” Osborne-Smith said. “Families and children no longer present with a single issue, but are rather affected by homelessness, poverty, addiction, mental illness, behavioral health challenges, juvenile delinquency, developmental disabilities and physical health problems that require more . . . more staff time, more intensive services, more crisis supports, more trauma-informed planning and care, and more funding support.”

Read Osborne-Smith’s full testimony.

Budget Testimony

Aimee Clemson Rich, a caseworker for Ashtabula County Children Services (third from left), testified to her time as a client of the agency as a person with substance use disorder, and how the Ohio START program helped her recover from addiction and maintain custody of her children. “The memory of Ashtabula County Children Services knocking at my door is something a mother does not forget,” she said. “Not wanting to face who was on the other side, afraid of the judgment, petrified of losing the only thing that I had left to live for, my children, a force greater than myself pushed me to turn the doorknob and face the consequences. Standing there were two women (to this day referred to as my living angels) sent to answer my prayers: to help me when I could not help myself, to take care of my children when I could not take care of them myself, to love me when I could not love myself.”

Clemson Rich went on to become a family peer mentor for Ohio START and eventually was hired as a caseworker. Read her full testimony

Watch the panel testimony on the Ohio Channel (begins at 59:00 mark).