To the Editor:
On Nov. 5, Athens County voters will have the opportunity to update a property tax levy that was first approved by the voters in 2000. Athens County Children Services is asking to continue this funding for the care and placement of children who have been victims of abuse and neglect in Athens County. These children are among Athens County’s most vulnerable citizens, and we hope that voters will continue their long history of support by voting YES on issue 17.
Athens County Children Services is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, responding to and investigating allegations of suspected child abuse and neglect. In 2018, ACCS received 1,866 reports of abuse and neglect.
The agency provides protective services to hundreds of at-risk children and families in their own homes and also had 166 children who spent a cumulative total of 36,633 days in temporary protective custody. In 2018, ACCS spent 2.5 million dollars for care and placing those children in foster and residential homes, a figure that has nearly doubled since 2013. Passing this levy is essential for providing safe and loving temporary placements for children while they are in foster care and for securing adoptive families for children who are unable to safely return home.
In addition to protective services, ACCS is active in the community with prevention and outreach services. Athens County is fortunate to have a school outreach caseworker placed in all five Athens County school districts. These workers are able to connect with families and children to provide interventions and supports that enhance school success and can strengthen families. In 2018, the ACCS School Outreach team provided 13,556 direct contacts, including feeding 3,640 children through the Peanut Butter & Jelly Project. It would be impossible for ACCS to provide these and other outreach and prevention services without the funding provided through this Levy.
ACCS would not be able to do their important work of protecting children and strengthening families without the incredible support of the Athens County community. Please continue that support by voting YES on Issue 17 on Nov. 5.
The Athens County Children Services Board
Nancy Schell, Chris Innis, Shelley Lieberman, Linda Clark, John Sole, Timarie Francis, Jenny Shadik, Doug Orr and Ralph Harvey