FCFC seeks additional funding

Published 10:43 am Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Fees not covered by funding from the state

At its Jan. 19 meeting, the Executive Council of the Appalachian Family and Children First Council approved an amendment to their bylaws to include an annual membership fee.

The reason for the amendment, explained Council Coordinator Susan McComas, is to meet administrative costs. She said that each county is required by Ohio law to establish a Family and Children First Council, and they must include certain members, as prescribed by the Ohio Revised Code, Section 121.37. However, the state doesn’t fully fund these operations, according to McComas. Her office, for example, is only funded at $15,750 per year.

“It’s not enough to support administrative functions,” McComas said.

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The amendment to the current bylaws would require mandated executive council members to pay an annual membership fee of $1,500, to help support costs.

These mandated members include the president of the Lawrence County Commission, ADAMHS Board, the Ironton City Health Department Commissioner, the superintendent of public schools with the largest number of students in the county, currently held by the superintendent of South Point Schools, Lawrence County Health Department representatives, the mayor of Ironton as the municipality with the largest population, the superintendent of county Board of Developmental Disabilities, a non-profit member currently served by the United Way of River Cities, and others as defined in ORC 121.37 (B)(1).

The other members, or the advisory council, are made up of representatives of other interested groups, individuals, and charities.

Advisory council members would be assessed a fee of $250 and school districts would pay $500 to participate.

Family representatives to the council would be excluded from any fee requirements, according to the wording of the amendment. It also includes a process for requesting that the fee be reduced or waived, but McComas said she hopes they recognize the value her office provides and choose to help fund them.

“We need (around) $25,000 to continue after July 1,” she said.

The services that the FCFC provides includes linking up individuals and families with various resources, as well as providing direct funding for certain needs. Though their main role, according to McComas, is making sure their clients are aware and taking advantage of the resources available to them. The agency also has funds available to directly support family needs.

This $38,000 in Family Centered Support and Services money is provide mostly through federal funds, 75 percent, with 25 percent coming from state general revenue funds.

This money can be used for a variety of things, from support with transportation to and from doctor’s appointments or other necessary appointments to helping install wheelchair ramps. It can also be used for parent education and mentoring, coaching and support groups, respite care, safety and adaptive equipment, and other allowable services.

“It can be used for putting a fence up around your property (for the safety of your child),” McComas said. Tangible projects like this or ramps, she said is where she can see the direct impact of the work she does and is one of her favorite uses of the money.

However, the money cannot be used for funding administrative costs. The funds must be distributed to the community as needed, and only as prescribed by law. Administrative costs,

McComas said, are not an approved or appropriate use of those funds.

Without adequate funding for the administrative functions, she said, operation of the FCFC would revert to the county commissioners, who are tasked with establishing the family and children first council.