Resignation and promotion at Butler County JFS won’t undermine progress

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Interim JFS Executive Director Bill Morrison talks about promotion.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

In the wake of Job and Family Services Executive Director Ray Pater’s resignation, the county is continuing to make changes at the agencies but commissioners say no one has yet or will miss a step during the transition.

County Administrator Charlie Young told the Journal-News that Pater has verbally confirmed he will resign from the agency. He has been on leave since December. Young said he would not discuss the circumstances of the departure because they want to protect Pater’s privacy.

Pater could not be reached for comment.

Bill Morrison has been interim executive director of BCCS, JFS and the Child Support Enforcement Agency in Pater’s absence and the commissioners approved his recommended promotion of Julie Gilbert to assistant director at Children Services on Thursday. This move will free him up more to deal with the other agencies now under his interim control.

Morrison said Gilbert is in an excellent position to ensure the agency keeps the momentum it has been building to not only keep kids safe, but foster reunification whenever possible. Gilbert was one of the architects of the agency overhaul a few years ago.

“One of things that was really clear is we wanted to make sure that the Children Services division remained as stable as possible as we make this transition, because we’ve made so much progress over the last three years that nobody wanted to see us take any kind of a step backwards,” he said.

Three years ago the agency went through a complete overhaul because children were staying in foster care too long. They changed the thought process of the agency, the case flow and several programs, such as resurrecting the Family Preservation program. Morrison said Gilbert was instrumental in this effort.

“So Julie is a natural fit to assume this responsibility… She was the original administrator when we began the case-flow change that we went through three years ago, she’s been the driving force behind that. Case-flow change and really changing the way we practice at Children Services,” Morrison said. “The staff look at her as being a leader of the organization so it’s really just a perfect fit.”

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The agency and its social workers had been at odds for years with the workers expressing complaints about everything from revolving door turnover to low morale. Union Chief Becky Palmer said this promotion is a huge plus for the agency and the people they serve.

“It is beneficial to both the families and the workers to have someone leading the agency who has a foundation and an understanding of the work we do here in Butler County, the families we work with, the services they need, and a history of the changes that have occurred over the years at BCCS. We don’t have to start over like we have many times through the years with many different directors,” Palmer said.

“Julie has also worked with the union over the last few years and helped rebuild the relationship in a positive way. She knows that when the workers are capable, have the support they need, and the agency has stability, the families are the ones who benefit.”

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Gilbert said under her watch Butler County families won’t just see the agency standing still.

“We feel like continuing that (new case-flow) process, sustainability and continuing to move forward and make improvements is one of our goals,” she said. “I am committed to continuing to moving the agency forward, always looking for ways that we can improve how we support families while assuring the safety of Butler County’s children.”

Gilbert will make $80,496 per year in the job.

As for the rest of the agencies now under Morrison’s mantel, Young said other changes are in the offing now that Pater has made his decision.

“We continue to evaluate the organization and make decisions on what we need within that organization and who is most appropriate to fill those positions,” Young said. “The next action that we contemplate taking would be the filling of one or two administrative positions at the Children Services agency. One of those was created by the promotion of Julie Gilbert and the second is a vacancy that has existed for some time. We are evaluating when, whether and how to fill that vacancy.”

Commissioner T.C. Rogers said he has asked if there have been any hitches during Pater’s absence and has been assured the residents of Butler County and clients of the agencies have been and will continue to be served well.

“With the procedures which we’ve changed and the models we’ve been using run the agency has proved to be so far just the way to manage in a most efficient way,” Rogers said. “So when one is gone then there are other ones who step up.”