It was not an easy decision for Washington County Children's Services Board members when we decided to place an operating levy on the November ballot. In considering this decision, we were forced to look at the risks for children in our county if we continued to face funding cuts amid a rising need for services. Our county has been fortunate to have a Children's Services agency that is nationally accredited and staffed with highly qualified, hard-working, dedicated employees. These employees work around the clock to address the needs of our most vulnerable population, neglected and abused children. The agency provides a safety net for children in crisis and works to provide a stable home for every child. Over several years, the number of referrals to Children's Services has increased while the funding to the Agency has declined due to cuts in federal, local, and state funding. Last year, Washington County Children Services fielded 1,661 calls reporting child abuse and neglect. At the same time, a number of critical supervisor and caseworker positions at the Agency remained vacant due to budgetary constraints. The School Outreach Prevention Program, a highly effective intervention program designed to deter abuse and neglect, was cut due to lack of funding. If you haven't had the opportunity to view information about the need for this levy, I encourage you to access You Tube to view the video posted by Friends of Children's Services Levy. This video provides a compelling argument for why we need safety net and intervention services for our county's children.
Ohio ranks last in the nation for state government investment in child protective services. That's why 45 of Ohio's counties maintain a local children services levy with overwhelming voter support. It's time for Washington County voters to support our own local property tax levy to support this critical service for our children. I encourage you to join me in voting Yes on the Nov. 6 ballot. Every child deserves a chance.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Dottie Erb is a member of the board of directors of the Washington County Children's Services Agency.