Celebrating more than 40 years of advocating for safe children, stable families and supportive communities!
Three separate associations merged to form PCSAO: children services board executive secretaries, county departments of human services directors with children services responsibilities, and the directors of county children’s homes. The original mission: to promote the development of sound public policy that benefited the children and families of Ohio and the public agencies that served them.
PCSAO hired its first staff.
PCSAO spearheaded establishment of a system of uniform training for every caseworker and supervisor employed by a county PCSA, the Ohio Child Welfare Training Program. The Institute for Human Services was awarded the first contract to serve as central coordinator for the training; regional training centers were developed in the counties; and competency-based training was delivered. Since that time, more than half of the states of America, the Child Welfare League of America, and many Canadian provinces have adopted the Ohio program of training as their model.
Gayle Channing Tenenbaum was employed to lead PCSAO’s initial advocacy efforts. When the state’s biennial budget passed that year, the State Child Welfare Subsidy (currently the State Child Protection Allocation) was increased by $10 million, a 50% increase over the previous biennial appropriation, and unheard of at the time. PCSAO also hosted its first annual conference with about 60 professionals in attendance.
Dan Schneider, former director of the Knox County Department of Human Services, was hired as the Association’s first full-time executive director. With staff in place, the Association expanded its efforts to support counties and advocate for children and families in the public policy arena, including: financial management and media manuals, workload studies, new county executives orientation, levy campaign consultation, and a variety of training, consultation, and technical assistance offerings to assist policy implementation in the counties.
Crystal Ward Allen, then a graduate student on field placement with PCSAO, researched and created the first biennial PCSAO Factbook. This publication has been replicated every two years since that time and serves as a means to provide critical information concerning Ohio’s children, families, and the PCSAs that serve them.
PCSAO developed and implemented Rising Up and Moving On, a venue to recognize children who have been in the foster care system and overcome extraordinary circumstances to become successful. Each year, six to eight youth have been recognized at the annual conference, and many more are honored in their home counties.
PCSAO developed Standards for Effective Practice for child welfare. More than a hundred child welfare professionals from across the state participated in subcommittees and developed the final version, the first of its kind.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation funded PCSAO to expand the Family to Family Initiative in Ohio beyond the pilot counties of Cuyahoga and Hamilton.
PCSAO collaborated with Ohio University and Harvard University to develop the Executive Leadership Institute. This program focused on the concept of value creation, political management, operational capacity building, and the measurement of strategic performance. The program is now housed at Ohio University’s George V. Voinovich Center for Leadership and Public Affairs.
The United States Congress appropriated funds for use by PCSAO to work in partnership with other states to assist in developing a national grassroots network of local and state agencies to increase the safety of children and the stability of families. Additional appropriations were made in following years to support this effort. PCSAO launched its website, pcsao.org.
By 2001, the states of California, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Kentucky, and Maryland, plus San Diego County, California, were fully engaged in the grassroots effort. Dan Schneider assumed the title of Director of National Operations for the National Network for Child Safety, where he utilized his vast leadership skills developed over the years. Crystal Ward Allen was named Executive Director of PCSAO.
Max Bucey, former executive director of Athens County Children Services and President of PCSAO, was hired as the assistant director of PCSAO. Following the tragic death of Nancy Fitzgivens, a Franklin County Children Services caseworker murdered by a client, PCSAO commissioned the “Community Heroes Quilt,” unveiled at the 2002 annual conference and began tracking caseworker safety incidents.
The PCSAO Standards for Effective Practice were revised and updated, and new standards for Caseworker Safety and Prevention were added. Dan Schneider passed away after a long and courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. Jacqui Romer-Sensky, who had served as acting director during Dan’s illness, was named director of the National Network for Child Safety. NNCS became a separate 501c(3) organization with its own national board of directors, having expanded to 14 states. PCSAO established the Dan Schneider Child Welfare Executive Leadership Scholarship Fund to assist child welfare leaders in enhancing their professional development.
PCSAO helped organize and support Overcoming Hurdles in Ohio Youth Advisory Board (OHIO YAB) following the My Voice, My Life, My Future project.
PCSAO launched KinshipOhio.org, an online resource for kin families. PCSAO helped to establish Ohio Reach to support emancipated youth in higher education.
In partnership with the Ohio Child Welfare Training Program, PCSAO expanded its benefits for agency leaders with an executive coaching program and an executive distance-learning series. PCSAO agreed to house and support the state health and human services coalition, Advocates for Ohio’s Future.
PCSAO launched its Facebook page.
PCSAO launched the Behavioral Health Leadership Group. Wear Blue (originally Wear Blue to Work) was launched as an annual statewide social media event on the second Wednesday in April to raise awareness of child abuse prevention. With support from Casey Family Programs, PCSAO hosted four regional forums on permanency that brought together county teams of judges, prosecutors, child welfare and others to improve permanency outcomes for longstaying youth.
The two-day annual conference expanded to include a pre-conference that featured both a Behavioral Health Summit and a casework supervisor training seminar. A $1 million grant from the Ohio Attorney General expanded Ohio Reach, which became housed at PCSAO with its first staff.
PCSAO issued a white paper on the opiate epidemic in Ohio based on the collaborative work of the Child Welfare Opiate Engagement Project earlier that year. With support from Casey Family Programs and in partnership with ODJFS, PCSAO established a six-county pilot project, Youth-Centered Permanency Roundtables. Following the departure of Crystal Ward Allen to work with Casey Family Programs, PCSAO hired Angela Sausser as its third executive director. Read more about 2013-2014 accomplishments.
As part of the biennial state budget, PCSAO successfully advocated for the creation of the Joint Legislative Committee on Multi-System Youth and secured specific guardrails and timelines for the Medicaid behavioral health services transition to managed care. At the 30th annual conference, attended by 800 professionals, PCSAO celebrated three decades of training and 35 years since the association’s founding. PCSAO bid farewell to its longtime director of policy and governmental affairs, Gayle Channing Tenenbaum, and established a communications fund in her name. Ohio Reach awarded mentoring grants to four college campuses. Three years of research on caseload and workload culminated in the release of an innovative workload calculator. Read more in our 2015 Annual Report.
PCSAO compiled data on the scope of the opioid epidemic’s impact on children services custody cases, published information on multi-system youth, and assisted PCSAs in the transition to Medicaid managed care for meeting the physical health needs of children in care. The annual conference was extended to three full days, and five agencies joined the pilot of Youth-Centered Permanency Roundtables, bringing the total to 10. Read more in our 2016 Annual Report.
In the first significant investment in children services in more than a decade, the General Assembly appropriated an additional $15 million for county agencies in each year of the biennium budget, along with a setaside of federal TANF funds for a new kinship child care program. With more than $1 million in grants from the Attorney General’s Office and other partners, PCSAO launched Ohio START in southern counties to combat the opioid epidemic and hired a director for the program. PCSAO also released the 13th edition of the Factbook and published a number of other policy guides and research papers on issues such as immigration, opioids and Narcan, reasonable efforts, and levy campaigns. Read more in our 2017 Annual Report.
Determined to improve outcomes for children and families, PCSAO launched a bold Children’s Continuum of Care Reform, aligned with the federal Family First Prevention Services Act and endorsed by numerous stakeholders. A three-year federally funded anti-human trafficking grant allowed PCSAO to add a staff member for training and member support, and Ohio START expanded to additional counties. PCSAO offered a three-day Leadership Academy for Middle Managers, adapted from a national model, and the Foster Care Advisory Group released its recommendations. Ohio Reach expanded its mentoring program to additional campuses and cosponsored the 10th annual Fostering Pathways to Success conference. Voices for Ohio’s Children awarded PCSAO its 2018 Children’s Advocacy Champion Award. Read more in our 2018 Annual Report.
The leadership of Gov. Mike DeWine and the General Assembly led to the single biggest investment in children services in Ohio history: $236 million in additional funds over the SFY2020-2021 biennium. PCSAO released the 14th edition of the Factbook, issued recommendations to improve treatment foster care, updated our Children’s Continuum of Care Reform plan, and helped lead a variety of system transformation efforts in preparation for implementing the Family First Act. Ohio START expanded from 32 to 46 counties. More than 300 hours of human trafficking training were offered to child-serving professionals. Read more in our 2019 Annual Report.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have closed the office, but PCSAO staff remained busy advocating for safe practice, protective equipment, and family supports. The annual conference shifted to an online event, and a three-year anti-human trafficking training project concluded. The countdown to Family First Act implementation did not stop ticking, and PCSAO led a statewide effort to improve treatment foster care as Ohio START expanded to 46 counties. A national reckoning on race led to renewed focus on issues of equity and inclusion within the children services system. Read more in our 2020 Annual Report.
PCSAO maintained historic budget investments by the state and engaged dozens of legislators in ridealongs with caseworkers. Already high turnover among caseworkers was exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic and combined with a variety of challenges finding appropriate placements for youth with high-acuity needs, leading to research and advocacy. A year-long learning series on race, equity, and inclusion for member agencies combined with strategic modernization efforts focused on safety culture and shared practice model. The Family First Act became effective Oct. 1 during the annual conference, which was offered with both in-person and online options, and Ohio START was one of five prevention services approved as PCSAO worked with a new Center of Excellence for Adolescent Behavioral Health. Read more in our 2021 Annual Report.
Addressing the two biggest challenges facing county agencies that year, PCSAO released a comprehensive research report on workforce and a data report on the treatment and placement crisis. Executive Director Angela Sausser testified before a Congressional committee on the nation’s mental health crisis, and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services awarded counties a $15 million workforce grant, administered by PCSAO. Ohio START launched cohort 5, reaching 54 counties, and assisted its first county in becoming nationally certified. As the association supported the statewide rollout of OhioRISE and tiered foster care, internal efforts focused on helping member agencies develop a culture of safety, combat racial inequity, and identify a shared practice model. Read more in our 2022 Annual Report.
Those individuals who served as President of the Association are:
Wilbert Jansen, Franklin County, 1981-1982
Ron Rockwell, Clark County, 1983-1984
Max Bucey, Athens County, 1985
Dan Schneider, Knox County, 1986-1987
Mary Ann Paloncy, Greene County, 1987-1988
Don Thomas, Hamilton County, 1989-1990
Isaac Palmer, Montgomery County, 1991-1992
Russ Johnson, Medina County, 1993-1994
Max Bucey, Athens County, 1995-1996
Dennis McKay, Fulton County, 1997-1998
Gary Crow, Lorain County, 1999-2000
Jim Smith, Champaign County, 2001-2002
Rhonda Reagh, Greene County, 2003-2004
Terry Miller, Coshocton County, 2005-2006
Kelly Lynch, Guernsey County, 2007-2008
Judy Englehart, Erie County, 2009-2010
Eric Fenner, Franklin County, 2010-2011
Chip Spinning, Franklin County, 2011-2013
Moira Weir, Hamilton County, 2013-2014
Matthew Kurtz, Knox County, 2015-2016
Catherine Hill, Athens County, 2017-2018
Kathi Spirk, Clinton County, 2019-2020
David Haverfield, Tuscarawas County, 2020-2022
Stacy Cox, Champaign County, 2023-