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OCTF Grant Impacts Families in Butler County
Posted By:  Adam Marcum
Wednesday, May 8, 2019

OCTF Grant Impacts Families in Butler County
Ohio Children's Trust Fund - April 2019, Issue 2
 | Cari Wynne, BCESC Kinship Navigator Supervisor

Melissa Ruffner
Melissa Ruffner, Kinship Navigator, Butler County Educational Service Center

Thanks to a grant from the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund (OCTF), an increasing number of kinship caregivers in Butler County, individuals who are caring for a child who is not their own biological child, are being positively impacted and are receiving a wide array of supports.

Funding from the OCTF grant, designed to prevent child abuse and neglect, has allowed the already existing Butler County Educational Service Center‘s (ESC) Kinship Navigator Program to hire an additional Navigator.

Butler County Educational Service Center, as a contracted partner of the Butler County Department of Job and Family Services, is part of the County’s Prevention, Retention, and Contingency (PRC) Plan to serve kin caregivers who are TANF eligible. The OCTF funding enables the Educational Service Center to serve non-TANF eligible families to work to remove barriers for them, too. This increased program capacity has doubled the number of kinship families served in state fiscal year 2019 to date in Butler County.

Butler County Educational Service Center is sharing promising practices with three other Kinship Navigation programs in Southwest Ohio under this OCTF-funded program, which hired a Program Evaluation agency through a competitive process. Because Butler County has decades of Kinship Navigation experience, the County is an important partner with other OCTF Kinship Navigator-funded programs in Southwest Ohio. In total, four service providers across the region participate in a Learning Community convened by Wright State University to share methods that work and help service providers translate and operationalize the Program Evaluator’s requirements.

Across Southwest Ohio, Kinship Navigators assess the needs of caregivers and help them access much needed resources. Some caregivers are struggling to obtain even the most basic needs such as food and clothing for the children for whom they assume care. Other commonly identified needs are financial assistance, health insurance for the child, legal support, emotional support, and so on.

Kinship Navigators are knowledgeable about resources particular to this population and they are able to ensure that families are linked with resources. Follow-up with caregivers helps to ensure that caregivers can access resources, and if not, further assistance is provided to ensure access occurs. In Butler County, increased marketing efforts and outreach to Butler County schools has resulted in the identification of more kinship families in need of support.

In Butler County, in addition to the increased capacity of the Kinship Navigator Program, OCTF funding has allowed a collaboration with several Butler County agencies, resulting in more support/services for kinship families and increasing the community’s capacity to support kin caregivers.

LifeSpan offers an opportunity for caregivers to receive assistance with budgeting for child-related expenses, as well as the opportunity to work with a coach, whose role is to provide more intensive “hands-on” type services related to barrier reduction. Catholic Charities of Southwest Ohio offers classes aimed at the importance of self-care for caregivers as well as support groups. Mindful Possibilities Training and Consulting provides telephonic trauma-informed interventions to caregivers who are facing challenging behaviors—this has turned out to be a high-demand service. Mental Health Consultation is available to kinship caregivers caring for children enrolled in the Butler County Educational Service Center’s Early Childhood Programs. In addition, kinship families are offered the opportunity to participate in Thrive/Family Fun Nights sponsored by the Butler County Family and Children First Council, where caregivers are able to gain information pertinent to their challenges and are also able to interact and form relationships with other families in similar circumstances.



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