COLUMBUS – State Rep. Susan Manchester visited Auglaize County Job & Family Services on Sept. 16 to take a firsthand look at the challenges staff are facing as they care for the community.
Manchester met with Director Michael Morrow, Administrator Michelle Bowen and Social Services Supervisor Seth Bowersock to discuss how technology has improved collaboration among counties and to learn more about their on the ground efforts in Auglaize County.
“Auglaize County appreciates Rep. Manchester reaching out to ‘get in the game,’” Morrow said. “It is the first time in my 21 years as director that we have been asked to host a legislator. Susan’s commitment to her district is powerful, and we look forward to partnering more with her.”
Additionally, the representative participated in a ride-along with Social Worker Natasha Moon, who investigates abuse and neglect of adults age 60 or older in addition to the well-being of children.
“I have incredible respect for Natasha and other caseworkers who are constantly navigating uncertain and demanding situations with an unparalleled level of empathy and compassion,” Manchester said.
“As we continue to develop and introduce legislation at the state level, such as House Bill 8, it is imperative that we take the time to listen to people on the front lines in children’s services,” the representative added. “Kinship caregivers, foster caregivers and caseworkers are faced with incredible challenges each day, which are only being further heightened by our current opioid epidemic. Currently, there is only one licensed foster family in Auglaize County, and I hope we can further collaborate with local JFS agencies to get more families in the pipeline to become foster caregivers.”
Earlier this year, Manchester introduced House Bill 8 alongside Rep. Tavia Galonski. The bill, which passed the House of Representatives unanimously, brings support to help recruit and retain foster caregivers in Ohio.
House Bill 8 gives the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services more flexibility to adapt to meet the needs of the foster care system in times of crisis, such as during our present opioid epidemic, and also allows up to 20 percent of pre-placement training to be taken online. This week, the bill received its first hearing in the Senate Health, Human Services and Medicaid Committee.