MOUNT VERNON — There are “a lot of uncertainties” within Jobs and Family Services — on a state and local level — according to Knox County Jobs and Family Services Director Matthew Kurtz.
Kurtz announced that a new state director of Medicaid is now in place, appointed by Gov. John Kasich. Taking over the position is Barbara Sears, former 47th District State Representative from Lucas County.
Kurtz is waiting to see what this will mean locally for Medicaid.
“It’s just uncertain everywhere,” he said “We’re looking at the end of a governor’s term, and there’s always some shifting when the governor’s time frame comes to an end.”
A high rate of turnover in staff was reported by Kurtz in the Children Services division.
With a new administrator in place this year, “There’s always some transition with mission. Some were resignations, and some were retirements,” said Kurtz. “It’s tough for us to keep people because of the difficulty of the cases they have to work on. Once we have people resign, the case load goes up because everybody has to absorb the cases. A lot of it goes back to the business and increased activity, and it stresses people.”
Re-hiring of positions and training has taken place, and Kurtz sees it as a good thing to sometimes re-build a team.
“It can be good to have a fresh insight and fresh perspective,” he said. “Although we usually don’t like to see turnover, we’re trying to capitalize on that and get the best results we can.”
Kurtz also informed the commissioners that Children Services currently receives as little as .08 percent of the state funding budget. Children Services currently operates on county levy funds along with matching state funds as well as a state Childhood Protection Allocation.
“We’ve asked for an additional $20 million for Children Services. And both times, the governor’s office has pretty much shot it down,” Kurtz said. “We’re going to try a little push again. And while we’re fighting a raging epidemic of opiates, it’s difficult for us to feel like they really take us seriously.”
Kurtz added that Children Services has had to dip into reserve funds, and decisions will have to be made when time for a levy approaches for renewal in 2018.