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Ohio Agencies Work to Keep Families Together Despite Economic Stresses

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 By Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH, Contact
February 26, 2009

Columbus, OH – As the economy continues to falter, Ohio child service agencies are reporting increased cases of abuse and neglect. Case managers are developing ways to help families take control and keep children in their homes.

Crystal Ward-Allen, executive director of the Public Children Services Association of Ohio, reports nearly a 20-percent increase in the number of calls to service agencies regarding the welfare of children.

"There is a direct relationship between living in poverty and having to deal with many, many stresses. When you are stressed out it's easy to be less of a positive parent."

Service agencies need to work with each family on an individual basis, says Ward-Allen, who adds, sometimes it’s as easy as helping them to find child care or heating assistance.

"If we can get them a little bit of short-term immediate assistance, they can readjust to their own changing stressful situation so they can continue to parent their child. While there are some cases that involve criminal investigations, in most situations, parents just need guidance to get through a rough patch."

The outcome, she says, is better for the child, for the family and for society when families are able to remain intact.

"Government does not make a very good parent for our children. Child protection agencies are a very important resource in the community and we want to safely keep children in their own home."

Service agencies say, due to their efforts to reform practices aimed at building, strengthening and preserving the family unit, the number of children taken into protective custody in recent years has decreased.

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