We have received some good news at our agency the past month and I would like to share. I have great pride and joy in the work of my staff, so I always like to point out their success when given the opportunity.
First and foremost, we received a great report from outside consultants who came in to examine our agency’s practice, policies and performance as we prepare to place a levy on the ballot this November. Public Consulting Group, Inc. concluded that our agency had both performed well and provided good stewardship over the public’s tax dollars. The Hamilton County Tax Levy Review Committee said the same in its report to the county’s Board of County Commissioners. We appreciate both groups diligently and comprehensively evaluating our operations so they could make an informed and detailed report to the Commissioners.
Next, we have been re-accredited by the national Council on Accreditation. This provides assurance that our agency is following best practices. It is a seal of approval that we have reached performance standards and are delivering quality services. The process for accreditation is lengthy and includes national experts visiting the agency and conducting an in-depth study of performance, policy, practice and more. There are several great news items about our Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food assistance) program:
- A federal review of the program in Hamilton County for March 8-10, 2016 resulted in high marks for the county. The quote from the report read: “The result of the review was very good and resulted in the least amount of Corrective Action required from an Ohio Metro County in at least 20 years.” The corrective actions were mostly minor and have already been resolved.
- HCJFS has been notified it is the most efficient metropolitan JFS in the state when it comes to administering the food assistance program. The agency does it for $6 per recipient, while other counties spend as much as $30, based on federal audits.
- The agency also leads the state’s metropolitan counties in timeliness, meeting required timelines for benefits determination 97 percent of the time – the highest rate ever for a metropolitan county.
Also on our list of good news is National Association of Counties Award for innovation for our livestream of National Adoption Day. Since 2009, HCJFS has won 14 of these awards, more than any other single government agency in Ohio.
The goal of the livestream was to provide a way for family and friends of the adopting families to witness the big day, build excitement about the adoption process and ultimately, drive traffic to HCKids.org. The video was engaging with high-quality live editing and multiple camera views. HCKids.org saw an immediate increase in traffic that has been sustained to this day.
The day of the event, more than 200 people viewed the live stream. There were nearly 1,000 visits to HCKids.org that day, compared to less than 200 on an average day. Monthly average sessions increased by 65 percent after the event. Monthly average users increased by 92 percent.
Another item on our list: I am honored to be chosen to join the Urban Child Welfare Leaders Group, hosted by Casey Family Programs. This group contains some of the top child welfare leaders in the nation, working to improve the effectiveness of child welfare. The group has also chosen Cincinnati for its next semi-annual meeting in August.
The Urban Child Welfare Leaders Group brings together commissioners or directors of child welfare systems in some of the largest urban areas in the United States. The UCWL meeting began in 1997 and is composed of 35 members.
Finally, the agency continues to lower turnover rates among workers in the Children’s Services Division. After reaching an all-time high in 2015 and topping 43 percent, this year’s rate stands at 12.76 percent through May.
I think we are seeing that last year was a bit of an aberration, as we normally are near the national average in turnover rate, somewhere around 25 percent. But we also have instituted many changes to help with turnover. We raised the standards on who we hire, recognizing we may have been hiring people not well-suited for the job, and we do a better job of explaining the work to new hires so they know exactly what the job they are applying for is really like and if it is consistent with their career desires. We brought the county’s top Human Resources official in on our executive team meetings to improve communication. We improved our onboarding process. It has all had a positive effect.