Board OKs moving Miami County Children’s Services to county control

The all-volunteer Miami County Children’s Services Board spent nearly an hour Thursday talking about ways to continue running the agency before voting to recommend county commissioners move it under the Department of Job and Family Services to provide more daily oversight.

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The discussion for possible change in oversight from a board of citizens appointed by commissioners surfaced quickly last month after long-time agency Director June Cannon was fired while under investigation by the sheriff’s department for alleged fraud and theft.

No charges have been filed. County Prosecutor Tony Kendell said work on the case continues.

Some board members and agency supervisors were in tears as long-term board member Cheryl Buecker made the motion to recommend the commissioners merge the agency with Job and Family Services. The motion included a recommendation the board remain in an advisory role at least through a transition.

“I am really sorry. I think this was going to happen anyway. We will go forward with a positive attitude,” Buecker told agency supervisors attending the meeting.

The county commissioners have the power to make the change without the board’s consent. Commissioner Ted Mercer, who sits on the board as an advisory member, said before the vote he was leaning toward the change to provide more oversight. He said he could not speak for the other two commissioners, but they, too, had said more oversight was a must.

There was one “no” vote to turn over control. It came from Rochelle Bednarczuk, who joined the board earlier this year. She said one person caused the change at the agency where she thinks “everything else is great.” Board members John Bosse, Chris Long, Rynn Malarkey and Buecker voted to recommend the change.

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Bosse said he didn’t have the time to devote to more board meetings that would be needed to provide more oversight.

“It would be a hard balancing act for me,” he said.

Board members discussed several options, including how to go about hiring a new director and making sure more detailed information would be provided to the board. One option discussed was moving forward with hiring a director and then deciding in a few months whether to recommend the commissioners change oversight to Job and Family Services.

Mercer said the commissioners would need a detailed plan to discuss if the board wanted to suggest that option. He also emphasized that the commissioners were not questioning the quality of the agency’s work with children and families.

“If you decide to leave it as is, we are going to need a lot of documentation on how your oversight is going to change and how that is going to work,” he said. “As far as the kids go, I don’t think there is anything that is going to change … We’ve got to run this organization as a business, and in doing that, we still have to have the compassion for the kids and the foster parents.”

Supervisors attending the meeting said they preferred leaving things alone. A list of questions submitted by employees included several about how personnel items such as flex time and comp time would be handled.

The commissioners would want change “as seamless as possible,” Mercer said. “There are going to be changes, but I don’t think it would be anything you can’t work with.”

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