Jobs and Family Services, key Butler County department, gets new leadership

New Butler County Job and Family Services Executive Director Julie Gilbert. GREG LYNCH / STAFF
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New Butler County Job and Family Services Executive Director Julie Gilbert. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

Interim Butler County Job and Family Services Executive Director Julie Gilbert and interim Children Services Director Shannon Glendon have permanently taken the helms of the county’s critical social services agencies.

The commissioners promoted Gilbert and Glendon on Monday and approved new salaries of $104,083 and $88,441 respectively. The new directors took interim status after JFS Executive Director Bill Morrison retired in May.

He has been grooming the pair to take his place for years, and the commissioners agreed with Morrison that Gilbert, the former BCCS director and Glendon, former assistant JFS director should take over, but the county needed to make sure they had the best so they posted the top slot.

“I think they are head and shoulders above anybody that applied, it was not even close” Commissioner Don Dixon told the Journal-News. “And of course there is less disruption, they know it inside and out and I think it was a good move.”

As executive director, Gilbert is responsible for about 350 employees in Children Services; JFS, which manages public assistance; OhioMeansJobs and the Child Support Enforcement Agency. Children Services has its own facility on Fair Avenue; JFS and CSEA are in the Government Services Center and Ohio Means Jobs has it’s standalone office in Fairfield.

The county received 76 applications for the executive directorship, both Gilbert and Glendon applied. Gilbert said they wanted to make sure one of them got the job to preserve what has been built over the years.

“It really was about the agency and making sure that we continued on with our mission, focused work, regardless of who was at the helm,” Gilbert said. “We really do believe in the work that we do at the county and wanted to see that continue regardless who received the job.”

County Administrator Judi Boyko said she interviewed Gilbert, Glendon and one other candidate for the top spot, a fourth person withdrew their application. She said their current leaders have extensive experience and capabilities plus something more, “they have such a humanistic approach to caring for and serving our vulnerable population.”

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Gilbert inherited an agency that in many regards several years ago was struggling but now is thriving. She said her main goal is to improve and enhance their existing programs and identify new programs especially in the Children Services realm. She said there is new legislation, The Family First Prevention Services Act, coming in October that will allow them to expand the use of their federal dollars to provide more family preservation services to families.

On the public assistance side she said they are meeting their case flow goals “very well” now she would like to bolster the Employment Success program with additional outreach at OhioMeansJobs.

For many years the county’s CSEA has been one of top — usually the best — performers in the state for collecting child support. She said the different arms of the agency have always collaborated well, even though their disciplines are different, and she wants to strengthen that effort.

One factor that is always a struggle is turnover for BCCS and public assistance, there are currently 11 full-time job vacancies each in those departments and Children Services has two part-time openings. Gilbert did not they paused hiring — except for Children Services — during the height of the pandemic because they were unsure of their funding.

“We do our best to recruit and retain staff,” Gilbert said. “Retention is something we are always looking at and evaluating to the best of our ability. These are not easy jobs and at a time when there are a lot of jobs available we see people exiting our department for other opportunities. But we do our best to support them so they can be successful.”

Commissioner Cindy Carpenter mentioned it is crucial that Gilbert move quickly to fill the JFS assistant director position and Gilbert said she is working on it.

Commissioner T.C. Rogers said he was happy to approve the promotions, “I understand that there had to be some due diligence, so I’m glad they’re finally at the positions which I thought they should be,”

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