1866Ohio passed the Children's Home law, permitting (not requiring) counties to have a place for children to live, separate from the county infirmary system.
1877 - 1880Franklin County voters approved building a Children's Home on Sunbury Road to provide care for orphaned and abandoned children. The home opened in 1880, as a public charity. In addition, families were sought to adopt or accept indenture of children.
1885 - 1920A nationwide foster care movement was formalized with licensing, boarding home payments and supervision provided by the state and local social service agencies. Indentured servitude of children ended in Franklin County in 1920.
1940sOhio passed the Comprehensive Children Services Act in 1946, mandating counties to provide social services to children and families. Physicians and other professionals began to take note of child abuse. The state expanded the role of child welfare boards to include protective services, foster care placement and in-home counseling.
1950sIn 1951, a new facility, Franklin Village on Gantz Road, was opened to replace the Children's Home and was located on 80 acres of land, which included recreational facilities and a gym. The Village housed children in cottages and house parents provided a more family-like setting. The first property tax levy specifically for the protection and care of children in Franklin County was passed in 1958.
1960sAs awareness of abuse and neglect grew, mandatory reporting laws were enacted in the 1960s, requiring professionals who work with children to report suspicions of child abuse and neglect. Along with foster care and institutional care, protective in-home services were available to keep children safely in their own homes. Also in 1969, the local child welfare board's name became Franklin County Children Services.
1970sIn the 1970s, several federal laws were passed that changed services to children. These included the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (1974), the Adoptions Reform Act (1978), and the Indian Child Welfare Act (1978). By now, Franklin County Children Services operated a 24-hour hotline for reporting child abuse and neglect and had established specialized units to provide services to abused children. Also, the agency began providing services to older youth who were unruly or out of their parents' control.
1980sIn the 1980s, amended federal laws changed child welfare again, redefining its relationship with the juvenile court and adding reunification of families as a requirement for placing children in out-of-home care. Adoption services were expanded and the agency began partnering with local child-serving agencies to purchase supportive and preventive services. A program for youth aging out of foster care was developed to focus on independent living skills.
The well-being of children continued to remain in the forefront of legislation. The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) of 1997 was federal legislation that made child safety the primary goal. Concurrent planning toward both reunification with family or a permanent alternative was the focus from the time a child came into out-of-home care. The Multi-Ethnic Placement Act (MEPA) of 1994 revised the practice related to children waiting for an adoptive home, prohibiting the race of the child or adopting parents from delaying the adoption of a waiting child, thus more children were adopted. Franklin Village no longer housed children, as those who needed group care were now placed in private, non-profit facilities.
The early 2000s were a time of increased attention paid to older youth, who were aging out of foster care. Also, modifications were made in laws regarding foster care, adoption and child safety issues. The federal government began monitoring states with regard to standards established within the Federal Child Family and Safety Review system. The laws and sound child welfare practice prescribed that intervention with a family was to occur only to ensure safety of children or to help the family. The goal of Franklin County Children Services became to maintain children safely in their own homes whenever possible by providing appropriate services to prevent case opening or placement of children.
The agency began to use a comprehensive assessment and planning model that involved structured decision-making from the time a child or family is referred and throughout the life of the case. This model provided tools for assessing a child's safety as well as the family's capacity to protect the child. The agency also embraced a set of guiding principles that shaped our practice.
TodaySince 2009, FCCS has implemented various initiatives to provide permanent, stable homes for children while strengthening the family unit. This approach keeps permanency for every child at the forefront and treats the family as the experts on themselves. The child welfare professional then works with the family to create a plan that will best suit that family's needs.
Some key initiatives include:
- Differential Response – Provides the flexibility of two pathways to assess the safety of children. The pathways are traditional response used for reports of severe abuse and neglect and alternative response for moderate risk cases.
- Permanency Roundtables (PRT) – Group service team meetings focused on expediting permanency for children 12 and older.
- Team Decision Making (TDM) – Facilitated meetings with families, the service team and a family community support person, gathered to plan for the safety of children.
- Group Supervision and Case Consultation – This involves multiple staff members, which allows for various perspectives in developing solutions to complex case challenges.
- SAFE Teams – This group of intake staff meet twice a day to review, discuss and make screening decisions on complex reports made to the agency's child abuse hotline.
- Gateway CALL – A large-scale agency initiative with other community partners focused on ensuring children have access to trauma screenings, assessments and treatment for trauma and related behavioral health needs.
Community Support through the Years
The Franklin County community has supported abused and neglected children since the late 1800s and the agency is grateful for the continuing support. County voters have passed property tax levies for Franklin County Children Services since 1958. The current levy support for the agency includes a 1.9 mill levy that was renewed by voters on November 4, 2014, and a 3.1 mill levy that expires at the end of 2019.