Mahoning County Children Services Board has been granted its wish to remain as an independent agency of county government.
Carol Rimedio-Righetti, chairwoman of the county commissioners, announced Thursday the commissioners had decided to keep the child welfare agency independent, as CSB had requested Tuesday, but the commissioners took no formal vote on the matter Thursday.
“Your board voted unanimously. We totally respect that,” Righetti told Calvin Jones, children services board vice chairman, and Dave Arnold, that board’s interim executive director. “We know that you’re doing a great job,” Righetti added.
Righetti said she is satisfied CSB can achieve cost savings through its use of central county services, such as legal services from the prosecutor’s office and personnel services from the central human resources department, and through sharing of services with other county agencies.
The announcement contrasted with the commissioners’ unanimous declaration last month of their intent to designate the county’s Department of Job and Family Services as the county’s public child welfare agency.
When they took that commissioners said a merger of CSB and JFS would “streamline administrative and fiscal functions under one entity, while eliminating duplicative positions through attrition.”
Righetti said she hopes Atty. Randall B. Muth, who CSB hired Tuesday as its executive director, can begin work here within the next few weeks under his three-year contract.
“Hopefully, as your new director comes on and meets with us, we can work in other areas with shared services and shared costs,” Righetti told Jones and Arnold.
Muth has been Wayne County Children Services director in Wooster since 2006. Before that, he prosecuted child abuse and neglect cases as a staff lawyer with the Children Services Division of the Stark County Department of JFS.
Because he has a law degree, Righetti said she believes Muth will be paid about $99,000 a year here.
Denise Stewart, the previous children services director here, was earning $92,934 annually when she retired Jan. 1.
Jones said Muth’s salary and starting date have not yet been determined.
Allowing children services to remain independent while taking cost-saving measures “turned out to be a win on both sides,” observed Commissioner David Ditzler.
“The strength of the Children Services Board is basically the members of the board that we’ve appointed and its leadership,” said Commissioner Anthony Traficanti. The county commissioners appoint the entire 11-member CSB.
“I stand by your decision and support your decision at this time to stand alone as an agency. Continue to serve the community. Continue to protect our children, and, of course, the levies are your life blood,” Traficanti told Jones and Arnold.
Arnold thanked the county commissioners for giving serious consideration to the child welfare agency’s future.
Jones told the commissioners, “We look forward to future opportunities to continue to diminish costs and increase the service delivery to the children and foster families.”