Emergency assistance to families has increased this year.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- While the number of children served by the Mahoning County Children Services Board has remained fairly constant over the past three years, the number removed from their parents and placed in CSB custody elsewhere has declined substantially, the agency reported.
David E. Arnold, chief supervisor of family services, told the board Tuesday that the number of children served in the first five months of each of the last three years has remained between 3,600 and 3,700.
However, he said, the number of children the agency has had in placement outside their parents' homes as of May 31 of each year declined from 208 in 1999 to 152 in 2001. Of that group, the number in foster care as of May 31 of each year dropped from 157 in 1999 to 105 in 2001.
Arnold said Mahoning County's CSB has among the lowest per capita out-of-home placement rates based on the county's population of all 88 Ohio counties.
"I think it's because we've committed ourselves for years to working with families and providing whatever service we need to keep kids with their families," he explained. Mahoning County is fortunate to have plenty of counseling and drug and alcohol treatment available to assist in that effort, he added.
Welfare effects: Arnold reported that emergency assistance payments the board made for such things as food, clothing and utilities, to keep children in their own homes amounted to $32,749 for the first five months of 1999, and $30,972 for the same period in 2000, but soared to $51,996 in the first five months of this year. He attributed this year's increase to families' needing emergency help after reaching the end of their three-year welfare eligibility last fall under welfare reform.
The board renewed for one year its $40,000 annual subsidy to the Hope House Visitation Center on West Earle Avenue, where the board met Tuesday afternoon. Hope House provides a secure, neutral, child-friendly environment for supervised visitation between parents and children, exchanges of children between custodial and noncustodial parents, and parenting classes.
Thomas Carson, a Boardman High School sophomore, presented the board with a check for $224 from a candy sale he had undertaken as a fund-raiser. He said he wanted to help abused and neglected children.