Dec 12, 2014

Ohio woman kicked off welfare for not reporting she was in a coma

Kimberly Thompson, 43, says she was lying in a hospital bed when she found out that she would no longer receive government assistance. The letter from the county shocked her: "They basically cut me off of benefits for not reporting I was in a coma," she says.

When Thompson woke up, she learned that her cash assistance through the Ohio Works First program as well as her food stamp benefits had been terminated—more than $700 per month in total. Administrators said the county imposed a sanction because she had failed to complete the mandatory work and training requirement for receipt of government assistance. Thompson called the Franklin County, Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services to tell them she was in the hospital. A worker there told her she had two days to verify her hospitalization. Frail and unable to move—she'd had seven toes amputated and says she lost some cognitive capacity—she was unable to get to the county office.

Advocates for the poor in Ohio say that situations like Thompson's are not uncommon as a several-year-old effort to impose strict work requirements on state welfare and food stamp recipients has led to thousands of families losing aid. Anti-poverty advocates note that even as the state is moving to bolster the medical safety net through Medicaid expansion, it has dramatically slashed its welfare rolls since 2011, shrinking the program from 90,000 cases to 60,000 in the last four years. Most of the remaining people relying on cash assistance are children who often live with grandparents.

"The way most counties meet the work requirement is to throw people off," said John Frech, the director of the Athens County Department of Job and Family Services. Frech has been critical of the state trends. His county is unusual in that its welfare program has maintained similar caseload levels since 2011 even as it has connected more of those on the program with jobs and training. "Ohio made this a success from the state's perspective by throwing families off of a program that they need. Rather than working to help poor families, we've left families in a terrible situation."

Read more from NBC News' In Plain Sight.

Dec 3, 2014

Ohio Senate Bill 382 will improve the lives of poor non-custodial parents

Provisions should be extended to children and caretakers
Ohio’s Senate Bill 382, introduced by Shannon Jones (R-Springboro) and Shirley Smith (D-Cleveland), would make positive changes for Ohioans living near the poverty level. It would, for the first time, guarantee a standard of living of at least the poverty level for non-custodial parents.

Jack Frech, Director of Athens County Job and Family Services, voiced his support for this Senate Bill in a letter sent to every Ohio senator last week, with the request that the same provision be extended to the children and their caretakers. 

“We support this bill, because we feel strongly that no one should be forced to have an income that will not meet their basic human needs,” Frech said. “It is encouraging that with bi-partisan support this bill will help establish this precedent. Now, we need to immediately offer that same guarantee to the children and caretakers of these obligors.”

Dec 1, 2014

Campaign shines spotlight on poor during holidays

It's the most wonderful time of the year, for some, while others struggle mightily throughout the holiday season to meet basic needs and put food on the table.

So once again this year, anti-poverty advocates are highlighting the needs of those struggling with poverty in Athens County, southeast Ohio and across the state with the HardTimesOhio campaign.

Members of the faith community have joined housing and human-services advocates in showing the toll the "low-wage economy" is having on individuals and families across the state, according to a press release. The new effort can be found at

Involved in that effort is Athens County Job & Family Services.

Read more in The Athens NEWS.

Nov 17, 2014

Bus route expansion to include Chauncey, Rt. 13

An Athens city bus route expansion, made possible through a state grant and matching local dollars, will for the first time offer regular public transit in the village of Chauncey and along Route 13, further connecting riders to an already robust public transit system.

“We hope this new service proves valuable to the entire community, especially low-income residents who live in villages just outside the City of Athens,” said Michael Lachman, transportation services manager for Athens Public Transit, which is administered by Hocking-Athens-Perry Community Action. “Many cannot afford to live in Athens due to the high cost of housing. This expansion offers a way for these workers to get to the jobs they need in an affordable way. It will offer a lifeline to many needy households in our corner of Appalachia.”

The Ohio Department of Transportation awarded the $34,806 grant to APT and HAPCAP through the Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) project, a competitive federal grant that’s intended to improve access to jobs and educational opportunities, particularly among low-income residents.

With matching dollars from Athens County Job and Family Services and the city of Athens, the funds will replace the existing Route 5 loop through Athens and The Plains with a pair of synchronized route loops that include the outlying village of Chauncey and parts of Route 13.

Nov 3, 2014

Cash benefits have fallen by more than 20 percent in most states and continue to erode

Cash assistance benefits for the nation’s poorest families with children fell again in purchasing power in 2014 and are now at least 20 percent below their 1996 levels in 38 states, after adjusting for inflation.  ...

For 99 percent of TANF recipients nationally, the purchasing power of their benefits is below 1996 levels, after adjusting for inflation.

As the country moves past the economic downturn and public coffers regain strength, states should halt the erosion of TANF benefits and begin restoring the purchasing power lost over the past 18 years.

Read more from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Oct 31, 2014

More Ohioans turning to food pantries, study shows

More than 1 in 6 Ohioans — more than 2 million people — don’t have enough to eat and turn to pantries for food each year, according to a new report, “Hunger in Ohio 2014.” The study, released yesterday by the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, showed a 40 percent jump in the number of people seeking help from four years ago.

“Ask the general public; they think the biggest crisis in America right now is Ebola," said Matt Habash, president and chief executive officer of the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. "We think Ebola is a crisis in America. Now if we had 2 million Ohioans having Ebola can you imagine the response to that? And yet, we don’t think about hunger and poverty as a crisis. We think about it as a way of life."

Read more in the Columbus Dispatch.

Sep 10, 2014

Poverty in Athens Co.: What can/should be done?

In this second of a two-part series in The Athens Messenger, Director Jack Frech helps explain the challenges the county continues to face in its battle against poverty.

Sep 9, 2014

Poverty in Athens County: OU students greatly impact percentage

A recent study that showed Athens County having the highest percentage of low-to-moderate income residents in the entire state is deeply affected by the city of Athens being the home of Ohio University. Data shows that off-campus students indeed skew the numbers, showing a major increase in poverty levels throughout the area.

This article in The Athens Messenger is the first of a two-part series to further examine the data and its impact on Athens County.

Aug 28, 2014

Request for Proposals - Child Care Training

The agency is requesting bids for all costs related to the provision of child care training. Bids must be received by Sept. 5. Read the details on our agency's website.

Aug 26, 2014

Food stamp discrimination alleged in civil rights complaint brought against Ohio

Advocates for the poor have filed a civil rights complaint against Ohio officials for failing to renew the state's food stamp waiver for all 88 Ohio counties, which resulted in thousands of Ohioans losing the federal benefits, states an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

In a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which can be found here, the advocacy groups argued the decision disproportionately hurt minority Ohioans. The complaint was filed jointly by The Legal Aid Society of Columbus, the Ohio Poverty Law Program, the Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio and Advocates for Basic Legal Equality.

Aug 22, 2014

Comments on Ohio's 2014 TANF plan

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has submitted its 2015 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) plan to the federal government. The plan is in its public comment period until late August. The Athens County Department of Job and Family Services submitted comments to ODJFS relative to that plan. 

In a nutshell, we recommend the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services not accept Ohio’s TANF plan as written because of the state’s inability to meet the TANF program goals, its unfair and inequitable treatment of needy families, its tendency to shirk civil rights and ADA compliance in the implementation of the program, and numerous other reasons explained below.

Aug 18, 2014

Editorial: Streamlining delivery of human services is critical for Ohio's poor. So is providing adaquate resources

An editorial from the Cleveland Plain Dealer states that Ohio's range of welfare programs resembles a row of silos. Each caches valuable services. But each stands alone. Both for welfare clients and Ohio's budget managers, that kind of architecture guarantees problems.

Now, an Ohio Office of Human Services Innovation, recently created by the General Assembly and backed by Gov. John Kasich, will aim to "break down [those] silos" to coordinate service delivery. ...

The legislature told the Human Services Innovation office to recommend by Jan. 1 how to better coordinate human services and achieve "standardizing and automating" eligibility screening. ...

As legislators debated the Innovation office, Athens County's Jack Frech, a veteran, respected county Jobs and Family Services administrator, testified that the goals given the Innovation office "are admirable," but that legislators should add one: "[Assuring] that the basic human needs are met for all Ohioans."

Legislators, to no one's surprise, didn't put that on the Innovation office's must-do list. But Frech's point is crucial: Smoothing service delivery is important, but having adequate services to deliver is, in the larger scheme of things, equally — arguably, more — critical.

Jul 28, 2014

Ohio employs nearly 2,400 in new welfare-to-work program

After a slow start, a $66 million state effort to help welfare recipients find jobs and move off public assistance is picking up steam, according to a recent article in the Columbus Dispatch.

Nearly 2,400 Ohioans found jobs through the Ohio Works Incentive Program during its first year, which ended on June 30. More than 90 percent of the placements were made in the past six months.
Roughly 19,700 adults who receive cash assistance can participate in the program. ...

The board serving Athens, Meigs and Perry counties found jobs for every one of its 156 program participants despite having some of the highest unemployment rates in Ohio. Most are employed in low-wage fast food and retail jobs, many of them part time.
Jack Frech, director of the Athens County Department of Job and Family Services, attributed the high placement rate on the decision to give all of its $272,500 in bonus money to the workers, providing further incentive to stay on the job.

“They need the money more than we do. They use it to keep a car on the road and feed their families, and we’ve found it to be a useful incentive,” Frech said.

Jul 23, 2014

Fewer people getting public assistance even as poverty rises

The Columbus Dispatch reports that despite rising poverty, the number of Ohioans receiving public assistance continues to drop, raising questions about how the state helps the poor.

A report released today by Policy Matters Ohio notes that those working in some of Ohio’s largest occupations – cashier, home health aide, food service – don’t make enough to support their families and escape poverty.

Public-assistance programs like subsidized child care, food stamps and cash assistance help stabilize low-wage workers and their families, but eligibility requirements have been restricted and enrollment reduced in recent years, according to the report.

Jul 18, 2014

Get help applying for Medicaid; enrollment clinic slated for Aug. 7

The statewide expansion of Medicaid has meant more low-income people are now eligible for the free medical services. To help more get the assistance they need with the sign-up process, we scheduled our next Medicaid Enrollment Clinic in the evening.

The Work Station, located at 70 N. Plains Road, The Plains, will host the clinic on Thursday, Aug. 7, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Work Station will only be open that evening for the clinic – all other services will be closed.

During the clinic, counselors and Affordable Care Act navigators from Ohio University's Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine will sit with applicants individually to help them complete the process either by paper or online.

This is the third in a series of enrollment clinics at The Work Station.

Unlike the Affordable Care Act’s Marketplace, the enrollment period for Medicaid is ongoing. Now, those between the ages of 19 and 64 with an annual household income at or below 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level may qualify for coverage. Anyone earning near this amount is encouraged to apply. Previously, Medicaid eligibility was limited to pregnant women, families with children, senior citizens and those with disabilities who met income guidelines.

Applying for benefits can be done online at Paper applications are also available from the Athens County Department of Job and Family Services. For more information, call ACJFS at (740) 797-2523 or the area’s Healthcare Navigator at (740) 593-0828.

Walk-ins for the Aug. 7 Medicaid Enrollment Clinic will be seen as time permits. To guarantee an appointment, contact:

Justin Kendrick
ACA Navigator for SE Ohio
Grosvenor Hall 061, Athens, OH 45701
(740) 593-0828

Jul 15, 2014

How the stress of too little income changes the way people think

Being poor is stressful. That's no big surprise.

In a poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, 1 in 3 people making less than $20,000 a year said they'd experienced "a great deal of stress" in the previous month. And of those very stressed-out people, 70 percent said that money problems were to blame.

Scientists have long recognized that poverty can aggravate health problems. Now they're also beginning to understand that the stress of too little income actually changes the way people think.

How so? The reporter takes you into the life of Lauren Boria, a single mom from the Bronx in her early 30s.

Jun 18, 2014

Cutting the Poor Out of Welfare

Over the past three decades, Congress has conducted a major experiment in anti-poverty policy. Legislators have restructured benefits and tax breaks intended for the poor so that they penalize unmarried, unemployed parents — the modern day version of the “undeserving poor.” At the same time, working parents, the aged and the disabled are getting larger benefits.

Read more of Thomas B. Edsall's Op-Ed in The New York Times.

Jun 11, 2014

Elder Abuse Awareness Day set for June 13 in Athens County

Athens County Commissioners officially proclaimed June 13, 2014, Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Athens County, a day that serves as a call-to-action for individuals, organizations and communities to raise awareness about abuse, neglect and exploitation of elders.

“We hope to draw the same amount of attention to elder abuse as we do to child abuse,” said Jack Frech, Director of the Athens County Department of Job and Family Services. “So many senior citizens need the help and support from our community.”

“It is important to treat people with dignity and respect,” said Commissioner Lenny Eliason, following the signing of the official proclamation. “Everyone should be aware of their neighbors and offer assistance when they can or contact someone who can help those in need.”

"It’s a challenging job,” said Tabatha McDade, the agency’s APS coordinator. “Not everyone is open to receiving our help, even though it may be clear that they need it.”

Senior citizens can refuse care, and many times they do, especially when it’s a situation of self-neglect or when they’ve been abused by a family member, McDade added.

Join us in recognizing this day on June 13 by wearing purple, the official color of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

See our previous post for more information about what ASP does and other ways the community can help prevent elder abuse.

Jun 4, 2014

County Commissioners to proclaim June 13 Elder Abuse Awareness Day

The public encouraged to show support by wearing purple on June 13

Athens County Commissioners will proclaim June 13, 2014, Elder Abuse Awareness Day. They will make the official proclamation on Tuesday, June 10.

The day serves as a call-to-action for individuals, organizations and communities to raise awareness about abuse, neglect and exploitation of elders.

Athens County is home for nearly 7,000 individuals 65 years of age and older. In 2013, Adult Protective Services (APS), with frequent assistance from the Athens County Sheriff’s office and the Athens City Police Department, investigated 110 reports of elder abuse, neglect, self-neglect or exploitation.

APS, which is administered by Athens County Job and Family Services, is required to investigate and evaluate all reports of suspected abuse, neglect and exploitation of adults age 60 and older in Athens County. These adults may be handicapped due to aging, or they may have physical or mental impairments that prevent them from providing for their own care and protection.

Elder abuse is an under-reported problem that can have devastating or life-threatening consequences. It is estimated that for every reported case of elder abuse or neglect, as many as 23 cases go unreported.

What can you do to help prevent elder abuse?
· Know how to report suspected abuse or neglect. Call (740) 677-4208. All referrals are confidential. There is no cost for the investigation to the client or family.
· Sign up to be a volunteer guardian. Family members aren’t always available or the most appropriate people to help when a senior citizen is deemed incapable of making his or her own decisions. For more information, call (740) 677-4208.
· Join us in recognizing this day on June 13 by wearing purple, the official color of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

State's proposed bonuses for welfare workers a "slap in the face"

The state will tap welfare funds to pay bonuses to caseworkers who help the most people find a job and get off public assistance.

Republican Senate President Keith Faber tucked the pilot program into an off-year budget bill that cleared the House and Senate yesterday and is headed to Gov. John Kasich to sign into law.

The goal of the three-year pilot-program bonuses is to give local caseworkers incentive to find innovative ways to help people become self-sufficient, said Faber, R-Celina. It would provide $50,000 to each of five participating counties.

It’s a slap in the face of caseworkers,” Jack Frech said of the incentive program. Frech is the director of the Athens County Department of Job and Family Services. “They (lawmakers) have this perception that there are all these good-paying jobs out there and caseworkers aren’t telling (welfare recipients) about them.”

Jun 2, 2014

Opportunity's knocks

Tereza Sedgwick is seeing the economy from the bottom up, where the fastest-growing job in America is also one of the hardest.

MARIETTA, Ohio — She had made it as far as the career school's parking lot for the December training class and the February class, only to drive away each time in a tangle of anxiety and self-doubt. Now it was March, and here Tereza Sedgwick came again: dressed in the mandatory class uniform of red-and-black scrubs, a lit cigarette dangling in her fingers out the busted window of her '88 Plymouth. She parked in the lot and watched a procession of unemployed workers enter the school building in southeastern Ohio, trying to will herself to join them.

May 30, 2014

Change in food stamp distribution causing problems for poor

A decision by the state to stagger the dates that food stamps are provided is causing hardships for recipients, according to Jack Frech, executive director of the Athens County Department of Job and Family Services.

Until April, Athens County provided food stamps — actually uploaded onto a card similar to a debit card — during the first five days of the month. Now the distribution is spread over a 20-day period.

County Commissioner Charlie Adkins raised the issue with Frech at Tuesday’s commissioners’ meeting, saying he’s heard from people for whom it’s caused problems.

Read more in The Athens Messenger.

May 14, 2014

In testimony, director says poor Ohioans are ignored, urges legislators to assure basic human needs are met

The state’s safety net programs have not been meeting poor Ohioans’ basic needs due to drastic changes in state and federal policies, explained Jack Frech, director of Athens County Job and Family Services. Repressive work policies and benefit reductions have resulted in a loss of more than $570 million a year from the poorest families and the poorest communities in the state, he wrote in testimony he presented Wednesday.

As a result of these policies, poor families have lost out on over $400 million in food assistance. Also, 100,000 recipients, including 60,000 children, have been cut off cash assistance since January 2011. 

May 9, 2014

Medicaid expands to serve more; enrollment clinic slated for May 20

Thanks to the Medicaid expansion that went into effect on January 1, more low-income people are now eligible for free medical services.

Now, those between the ages of 19 and 64 with an annual household income at or below 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level may qualify. Anyone earning near this amount is encouraged to apply. Previously, Medicaid eligibility was limited to pregnant women, families with children, senior citizens and those with disabilities who met income guidelines.

Applying for benefits can be done online at Paper applications are also available from the Athens County Department of Job and Family Services. For more information, call ACJFS at (740) 797-2523 or the area’s Healthcare Navigator at (740) 593-0828. 

Need help applying for Medicaid? Sign up for our free Medicaid Enrollment Clinic on May 20 at The Work Station in The Plains.

May 8, 2014

Big-Box Stores Make Billions Off Food Stamps. Often It’s Their Own Workers Using Them.

Last night, as the clock struck midnight to end the month, some lines of computer code triggered a series of financial transactions that have a profound effect on the American economy. In that instant, hundreds of millions of dollars—taxpayer dollars—were automatically downloaded onto debit cards tucked into wallets and purses of people across America.

May 7, 2014

Low-wage jobs proliferate as middle class ones disappear

Lower-wage jobs have continued to proliferate since the Great Recession, as the economy creates fewer of the mid-wage jobs that have for generations been the backbone of the middle class, according to a new report.

The report released this week by the nonprofit National Employment Law Project, or NELP, said that lower-wage industries accounted for 22 percent of the jobs lost during the recession, but 44 percent of employment growth over the past four years. Median hourly pay in lower-wage industries ranged from $9.48 to $13.33, according to the report.

Read more from The Plain Dealer.

May 5, 2014

"We have a hunger problem in the state of Ohio"

Recent testimony from Ohio State Rep. Dan Ramos urging the House Health and Aging Committee to accept a federal work waiver for certain individuals who receive food assistance. Ramos is a Democrat from Lorain who currently serves as the Assistant Minority Whip.

Chairman Wachtmann, Vice Chairwoman Gonzales, Ranking Minority Member Antonio and members of the House Health and Aging Committee, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to bring before you H.B. 395 this morning.

H.B. 395 would require that Ohio file for the work requirement waiver to the Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD) program under the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, for all counties deemed federally eligible. Before I begin, let me be clear, just like the individuals receiving assistance and just like all of you – I want Ohioans to work. They want to work. As our distinguished chairman so eloquently put it, work is good for the soul and it is good for the pocketbook. Every able bodied Ohioan should be able to find gainful employment in the State of Ohio.

Apr 23, 2014

America’s hunger crisis, and why Washington ignores it

There’s the 99% and the 1%, and then there’s the 16%. The latter number is the proportion of Americans who don’t have enough food to eat, according to the most recent figures on food insecurity.

In absolute numbers, nearly 50 million people in this country—including 16 million children—currently lack sufficient food to live a healthy life.

The numbers are striking on their own, but what’s even more striking is how little attention the problem has received in Washington.

Apr 22, 2014

Support HB 395

House Bill 395 would require the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to apply to the USDA and accept the federal waiver of time limits for certain SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamp) recipients.

Unemployed adults without dependents between 18-50 years of age who are unable to secure at least 20 hours of paid employment per week are losing their food stamp benefits, and it doesn't have to happen. HB 395 would compel the State of Ohio to accept a federal waiver, restoring the last line of defense against hunger to thousands of needy Ohioans.

Read more from the Ohio Association of Foodbanks.

Apr 15, 2014

What if Wal-Mart paid its employees more?

The Marketplace Wealth & Poverty Desk and Slate report on how much more Wal-Mart might have to charge for some products, if it raised wages high enough that a typical worker earned too much to qualify for food stamps. 

Learn more about their series called The Secret Life of a Food Stamp.

Apr 1, 2014

A Region Reflects: LBJ in Southeast Ohio - 50th Anniversary

You are invited to the “A Region Reflects” gathering, a two-day event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of LBJ’s visit to southeastern Ohio. 

All events are free, including a bus tour on Thursday, April 3 to the Little Cities microregion of Athens, Hocking and Perry Counties. The tour is limited to 50 passengers, so register soon.

There will be an opening symposium on Thursday evening, April 3, in the Baker Center Theater on the Ohio University Campus featuring music and LBJ era journalist and OU Alum Sid Davis. All-day sessions in Ohio University's McCracken Hall (Patton College of Education) covering eight thematic tracks relating to the region's quality of life will take place on Friday, April 4. Friday’s sessions will open with a keynote address from Ron Eller, author of “Uneven Ground: Appalachia since 1945.”
Although all sessions are free, attendees are asked to register so the organizers can project room size needs, handouts, etc. To find out more about the event and to register on-line, please visit:

As the event approaches, if you wish to follow details about the event and read provocative information about poverty in the region and nation follow the facebook page at:

Free parking will be available in Lot 104 on Stewart Street across the street from McCracken Hall during Friday's sessions.  A locator map is available on the web site. 

Hope to see many of you and your friends and colleagues at this historic event.

Athens County 211 Reentry Resource List

The Athens County 211 Reentry Resource List was created for individuals leaving prison and rejoining their communities, but this document might be useful to others as well. Please pass it along.

Mar 27, 2014

New office proposed for Jobs and Family Services

The Kasich administration has proposed a new office for the Department of Jobs and Family Services whose efforts are intended to help case workers at the county level spend more time with clients.

The Office of Human Services Innovation would look to coordiante services across all public assistance programs, revise incentives, standardize and automate eligibility determination and "other matters the office considers appropriate." 

Learn more from the Columbus Dispatch or directly from the bill.


Mar 10, 2014

Smokers may pay for Kasich’s tax cut

According to an article in today's Columbus Dispatch, raising the cigarette tax by $1 would help pay for Kasich’s plan to drop the top state income-tax rate below 5 percent, but it would hit the poor the hardest.

“It’s bad news for poor people, that’s for sure,” said Jack Frech, director of the Athens County Department of Job and Family Services, which is in one of Ohio’s poorest areas. “Let me say, no one should be smoking cigarettes. It’s unhealthy, and no one should smoke. But poor people are not going to be able to turn on a dime and stop smoking because (the state) raises the prices.”

Read more.

Mar 7, 2014

What is the SNAP work requirement?

Not entirely clear on what the SNAP work requirement is? Check out this video created by The Center for Community Solutions for an explanation. Still have questions? Leave a comment below.

Who is dependent on welfare?

Are we all on welfare? Ananya Roy, professor at the University of California Berkeley, takes a critical look at government dependence in our society and comes to some surprising conclusions. Watch this video to learn more about welfare and entitlements in the United States and their impact on poverty, power and economic inequality.

Mar 5, 2014

Guardians needed to help area senior citizens

Image courtesy of worradmu /
Did you know that Athens County’s Adult Protective Services took on 110 new cases last year involving the abuse or neglect of a senior citizen in our community? Abuse and neglect can come in many forms, either at the hands of someone else or from the senior citizen’s inability to care for himself or herself.

Did you know that community members can help prevent abuse and neglect by becoming a volunteer guardian?

Athens County Job and Family Services, the agency that runs the county’s Adult Protective Services, is seeking volunteers who are able to serve as guardians for individuals 60 years of age and older who are no longer capable of making their own decisions.

The process for determining whether an individual is in need of a guardian is led by the county’s court system in consultation with a physician. Once it’s determined the person is incompetent, the court appoints a guardian to help them.

“Many people in the county don’t know that we provide this guardian service for senior citizens,” explained Tabatha McDade, Adult Protective Services coordinator for Athens County. “We have several who have volunteered their time in the past. But right now, we need new volunteers.”

To be a guardian, you must be at least 18 years of age and pass a background check. The court system prefers family members as guardians when possible, but many times there is no family nearby to help. In some cases, a family member is an inappropriate guardian, due to a history of abuse and/or neglect.

Volunteers are needed as soon as possible to assist the senior citizens in our community, McDade added.

The duties of the guardian will vary. In some cases, a guardian will visit with a senior citizen once a month for an outing, like going out to lunch or bowling. Some guardians assist with paying bills, balancing checkbooks, getting medications or simply socializing. The guardians are authorized to sign legal documents for the individuals with whom they work. Depending on the case, the tasks might be more extensive, like appearing in court as needed or helping them transition into a nursing home. Adult Protective Services staff is also there to support the volunteer when necessary.

Want to know more about helping a community member in need? Contact Tabatha McDade at (740) 677-4208.

Feb 18, 2014

Gov. Kasich talks the talk, but does he walk the walk?

His policies say no.

Athens County Job & Family Services Director Jack Frech says Kasich has done more damage than good for the poor.

"The truth is we've thrown 100,000 people, including 60,000 children, off cash assistance, and those people have nothing and they are hungry and many of them are homeless," Frech said. "That's the reality of his policies. I think it's great that the governor's talking about poor people, but his compassion that he expresses does not reflect the reality of his policies."

Read more.

Jan 29, 2014

New farm bill a missed opportunity to restore recent cuts that are hurting Ohioans

The new farm bill might prevent new cuts from hitting Ohio, but it did nothing to restore recent cuts that already are hurting hard-pressed Ohioans, said Jack Frech, director of the Job and Family Services department in Athens.

Read more from the Plain Dealer.