Through the generosity of our community, we were able to provide gifts to hundreds of foster children and other children in our caseloads. It was a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays.
The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve again donated hundreds of toys for our young children. The Haile Foundation helped with gift cards for our older children, as did many in the community, including Calfee, Halter & Griswold. Kate Koch, the famous Bike Lady, came through with more than 150 bikes for children of all ages!
We feel very fortunate to live in such a giving and caring community.
That sums up our 2015, too: a year of gratitude to our community.
It started with the Cases for Love Drive by local Public Relations Practitioner Julie Phillippi-Whitney and Sibcy Cline Realtors, which netted our foster children nearly 10,000 suitcases, duffle bags and back packs to transport their belongings. What incredible generosity!
We also launched the Friends and Advocates Making Investments in Local Youth (FAMILY) Fund this year and have had incredible support, especially from the Haile Foundation. This fund allows us to finance special needs of foster children, such as a college visit, prom dress or band trip.
We launched our #theone campaign – Could you be #theone? — in an effort to find adoptive parents for more than 200 children awaiting forever families. The community responded and in November, we celebrated our mass adoption ceremony where 17 children were adopted into eight families.
2015 also featured a visit from Gov. John Kasich, who pronounced Hamilton County Job and Family Services as “doing it right” when it comes to serving individuals with public assistance and employment needs. That was a proud moment for the employees who, each day, live our mission of moving people to a better place in life.
It is always nice to receive recognition for the work you do. We were also fortunate to receive three National Association of Counties’ Achievement Awards for Innovation this year. And two of our employees were recognized as County Employees of the Year.
But 2015 was difficult, too. The tragic death of a 2-year-old in our care last spring led to public scrutiny of our system. We responded with plans to do even more to keep children safe.
We assisted more than 16,000 children in 2015 in our Children’s Services Division. I estimate we helped another 25,000 children with child care. We helped about 25,000 adults with employment services and about 200,000 with public assistance. In our largest program, Child Support, we helped more than a third of the county’s 800,000 residents.
We made a difference each and every day and we plan to do the same in 2016.
You can count on us.