NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (Jan. 12, 2022) – Tuscarawas County’s Job and Family Services director says 2021 was another challenging year for his office.
David Haverfield says the COVID-19 situation kept the caseload high while also interrupting their work at times.
“We lost a staff member to COVID last year and that was really hard on all of us here, but I think beyond that we’ve really kind of just seen the effects of the pandemic has hit our kids mental health hard. It’s hit some of our families very hard, and we’re just continuing to see rising numbers of cases.”
He says the agency has seen sustained increases in public assistance requests and referrals to its protective services divisions since the start of the pandemic, although they’re hopeful things will turn around here in the new year.
“Those of us that do this kind of work know that it can be cyclical. We hope that better times are on the horizon. We just need to keep our eyes on the prize and keep focus on what we need to do and try to improve the lives of our citizens.”
Haverfield says the number of kids in foster care has declined slightly in recent months but remains higher than in the past.
“Back in March of 2020 we had around 70, give or take, and of course that number changes all the time. Kids come in. Kids go home. Some kids move on to family members or get adopted. We’ve been as high as in the 120s over the course of last year. We’re back down to a little over 100, 105 roughly depending on the day.”
The agency last year put out a call for individuals willing to foster kids for a couple of days at a time during emergency situations. Haverfield says a couple of people stepped up but they could always use more. To learn more about the licensing process and what’s expected, call 330-308-6722.