New provider for program aimed at keeping kids out of county’s custody

Butler County has chosen a new provider for a program aimed at keeping children in their homes and out of the custody of Butler County Children Services.

Pressley Ridge, a multi-state family services agency with offices in Hamilton, has been awarded a four-year, $1.6 million contract to handle the county’s Family Preservation Program.

Nine proposals were received by BCCS after it decided to resurrect the program that had previously been handled in-house until it was dismantled in 2011 for budgetary reasons.

BCCS hopes to restart the Family Preservation Program in April, according to BCCS Director Bill Morrison.

“We had an opportunity to pick amongst several proposals, all of which we felt good about,” he said. “It’s kind of like when you’re doing job interviews, you hope you get to pick the best one out of the bunch and not just somebody you can accept.”

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BCCS has been satisfied with Pressley Ridge’s services in the past, Morrison said. The company stood out from others because they are local and agreed to hire five staffers upfront to handle the contract.

One of the advantages for contracting out services for the Family Preservation Program is that many of its services are Medicaid billable and the contract price will cover services, like helping a family create a budget, that Medicaid doesn’t cover.

Joe Beumer, a social worker who worked in the Family Preservation unit when it was previously an in-house agency, said the services it provides to families address a myriad of issues.

“If I would go into the home and there are medical needs not being met for the children, because the parent is very disorganized or whatever, I would focus on setting up a schedule, getting a calendar, setting up rules of the home, setting up consequences and a reward system for the kids, budgeting if that was an issue, meal preparation if that was an issue, taking them grocery shopping, learning to shop on a budget, all those things that are going to impact the family,” he previously told the Journal-News.

BCCS staff and supervisors will initially decide if the Family Preservation Program is an option, Morrison said.

Outsourcing the program is not expected to have an impact on BCCS staffing levels, according to Morrison.

“I don’t anticipate it reducing the number of social workers that we need, but it may prevent us from having to increase that number,” he said.

The last time the agency outsourced a program, 14 employees were laid off at the Family Connections visiting center. The county estimated it would save $800,000 by contracting out those services.

While the union representing BCCS social workers would rather keep the program in-house, union president Becky Palmer said she is pleased with the choice of program provider.

“We are happy that Pressley Ridge was awarded the contract because they already provide great supportive services to the families we serve,” she said. “The workers are concerned that limiting our options for different types of interventions will create more challenges for our families. There are a lot of unanswered questions at this point, but we look forward to working with Pressley Ridge and learning more about what services they will be providing.”

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