CSB's vision is to be a nationally respected child protective agency, according to its proposed strategic plan.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A shared mission and values, a new office and an improved relationship with juvenile court are among the major goals of a proposed strategic plan for the Mahoning County Children Services Board over the next two to three years.
"We wanted to take a look at our environment, where we work, how we do business and look for ways to improve," Denise Stewart, agency executive director, said of the planning process.
A draft of the plan, titled, "A Strategic Plan for Children Who Need a Better Tomorrow," was presented to the board for its consideration last week. The plan, which has not yet been adopted by the board, was developed through a staff survey, small focus group discussions with staff, foster parents, agency and community leaders and a board and staff retreat.
The retreat, held April 10 at a Boardman hotel, was facilitated by Edwin B. Naylor, a senior consultant with the Child Welfare League of America, who also facilitated the focus groups.
Agency's mission: The plan says the agency's mission is to work with the community to protect children and preserve families.
"MCCS will be viewed as the best, most caring, nationally respected child protective agency working cooperatively within the community to preserve quality family life," according to the agency's vision statement presented in the draft.
The staff survey and focus groups identified as high priorities new and improved offices, increased staff, reduced caseloads, higher pay, improved staff morale and safety and improved internal communication among staff.
To enhance safety and communication, the board is considering providing cellular phones to 79 staff members, according to the Rev. Joseph Allen, pastor of St. Dominic Church and board finance committee chairman.
The board said acquiring a suitable building, developing good public relations, training board members and developing a more specific strategy for the future are critical issues.
The agency is on the second floor of the Mahoning County South Side Annex, a former department store, at 2801 Market St., which also houses other county departments, and for which the county plans other uses.
Bigger quarters needed: CSB needs larger quarters configured to its needs at street level in its own child-friendly, barrier-free building, which would be readily available for use after business hours, Stewart said.
She said the agency looks forward to working with Judge Theresa Dellick, who was appointed to Mahoning County Juvenile Court this spring, on improved working relationships between that court and CSB and on avoiding unnecessary delays in court cases.
With many staff members approaching retirement, the plan says the agency must examine the impact of their potential departure. The plan doesn't mention an early-retirement incentive, but Allen said the board's executive committee has studied and tabled the ERI because cost savings from it are not sufficient at this time.