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Vinton County Approves Levy For Child Services, Beleaguered By Opioid Crisis

South Central Ohio Job and Family Services covers Ross, Vinton and Hocking counties.
Gabe Rosenberg
South Central Ohio Job and Family Services covers Ross, Vinton and Hocking counties.

Among the many ballot measures and tax levies approved around Ohio, one in Vinton County could provide some relief from the opioid crisis.

After being twice rejected by voters, most recently in 2014, the Children and Seniors Services Levy finally passed on Tuesday. The levy will raise close to $450,000 a year for the next 10 years – no small amount for a rural county like this one.

Jody Walker, the director of the South Central Ohio Job And Family Services - which covers Ross, Hocking and Vinton counties - says the opioid crisis is making care more expensive.

“Seventy-five to 80 percent of our cases have some type of identified substance abuse issue, whether it's with one or both parents,” Walker says.

Walker says the money will help offset the rising costs to place local children in foster care.

“When it comes to reunification, when it comes to removing children because of safety issues, and the fact that with treatment, and with relapse, which happens unfortunately, which means kids are in custody longer,” Walker says.

Walker’s organization has about 32 kids in public custody right now.

“For Vinton County, we had about three kids that we've had in residential, and those costs are a lot higher than, again, regular or therapeutic foster care,” Walker says.

As WOSU previously reported, out of all 50 states, Ohio ranks last for the amount of state funding allocated to child protection services. That funding has dropped for agencies across the state by 17 percent, or about $93 million, in the last decade.

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.