No Ohio entity chosen for diversion service; which kids/families most likely to avoid The System?

I worked in children and family services for eight years. I had internships in juvenile court – with a judge, in the diagnostic clinic and in programming. I helped negotiate CCDCFS contracts for an alliance of over 40 child caring agencies. So I know a bit about what this announcement is getting at: keeping kids and families who aren’t already in the juvenile court system for abuse, neglect or dependency from ever getting into the system unless it is the absolute last resort.

From the announcement:

A vendor has been selected to manage the design, implementation and evaluation of an innovative program that will provide another tool to child protection agencies for working with children and families in trouble, the Supreme Court of Ohio has announced. Ohio’s Alternative Response Pilot Project, which was authorized last year by the Ohio General Assembly, is the result of a joint effort by the Supreme Court of Ohio and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Following a rigorous and competitive proposal review process, a team of experienced consultants collectively named the “AIM Team,” was chosen from a field of four applicants.

The lead partner is the American Humane Association, a national nonprofit organization focused on protecting both children and animals from abuse, neglect and exploitation. Working in tandem with AHA is the Institute of Applied Research, an independent, nonprofit research and consulting firm based in St. Louis, Missouri, as well as several consultants from the state of Minnesota who bring state and county level expertise in the design, implementation, and testing of alternative response, having developed their own nationally regarded alternative response protocol.


Alternative response allows child protection agencies to divert cases to different tracks or response paths in order to better address the specific circumstances and needs of each report of child maltreatment. This targeted approach to intake and case management authorizes child protection agencies to provide differentiated responses to reports of child maltreatment based on the individual circumstances or risk factors presented.

“The philosophy behind alternative response is essentially that one size does not fit all,” said Steve Hanson, who manages the Supreme Court’s Children, Families and the Courts Program. “Under the current system, substantiated reports of child maltreatment are formally filed in court, but under the alternative response system, child protection agencies can appropriately respond without formal court intervention in situations that present a low risk of harm to a child.”

Alertalertalertalertalertalert ad nauseum:

Doesn’t CCDCFS and its like around the state already have such alternative paths for abuse, neglect and dependency cases – I mean, a plethora of paths? The court’s oversight is to protect the rights of the child and the parents as the case moves forward and everyone gets their needs met, with the assistance of the system.

While Ohio’s public child careworkers go through training and have years of experience in some cases, they are not required to be licensed social workers or clinicians. Given some of the high profile misstakes related to failures to adequately judge how in danger children were, I fail to see where this new program fills a currently unmet need.

Why is the Supreme Court announcing this? Why not ODJFS?

What does Jim McCafferty, Director of CCDCFS, think of the effort? It could be a great thing – I don’t actually know, but I would feel much better if they had some in the field folks commenting on the effort.

Diversion programs for delinquints already exists in several communities and by all accounts, are well-utilized. So it doesn’t seem odd that the state has been looking to do something similar for abuse, neglect and dependency cases – if I’m reading the announcement properly.

Which kids and families are going to benefit from this? Or, in other words, who is the target audience? Why would I ask such a thing? Because when programs like this come down the pike, there’s often though not always a likelihood that someone is concerned that “good” families are getting caught up in a “bad” system.

I do not know that that is happening – could be the furthest thing from the truth. But I would like to see more background about the reasons for this new effort.

How is it being funded? For how long? And where – throughout the 88 counties – where exactly is it being piloted?

And why why why – no Ohio agencies? That really really shocks me.

Lt. Governor Lee Fisher
– I would love to know what he thinks about this announcement, since he headed one of NEO’s most well-known child care agencies – The Center for Families and Children.

Where’s the link for the program? All we get are referrals to the individual websites of the vendors. Blech.

Okay – I’m done. For now. Maybe some traditional journalist type will be on the horn before I get to it and fill in the blanks, hey – maybe the Eye on the Statehouse – which could tell us how much this program costs and whether or not it’s duplicative of what’s already going on, seeing as how the Republican-led legislature authorizes its existence in 2004.

I’m all for helping the kids – but this announcement is very thin, and I don’t like that no entities from Ohio are getting the vendor money. I know we have people here who can do this stuff.

What do you know?

5 thoughts on “No Ohio entity chosen for diversion service; which kids/families most likely to avoid The System?

  1. Ceejay – that’s exactly what I’m getting at. I want to know more – guess I may just have to find it out myself. 🙂 And share, of course.

  2. Thanks, Paul – do you happen to know what your friend thinks about this particular process/program? I haven’t seen a single other news item about it since last week, on the SCt’s feed.

  3. Jill, I agree with you. There should be more information about this program and those who will benefit from it, not only the children, but those who will benefit financially from providing this service. One of my biggest complaints about government spending is the wasted dollars for consultants and researchers who are brought in to tell the people in the field what is wrong with the system. Those people in the trenches working with the problems on a daily basis already know what is wrong and what they need to help fix it but do not have the money or the personnel to do much but keep their heads above water.

  4. Attn Anon who left comment on election fraud: sorry, you’re at the wrong post. You can send such info to me as an email.

  5. Jill:I know pretty much nothing about this field, but I’ve spent some time with Professor Stephen Gavazzi of OSU, who, with his wife Courtney Yarchek-Gavazzi, have built a research practice and small business around a juvenile assessment system they developed called GRADcis. Their tool is used by a number of juvenile court systems in Ohio, and is well-regarded nationally. It was disappointing to see no mention of them or their company in this announcement. As you ask, why not Ohio agencies?PL

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