Monday, April 10, 2017

Opioid problem creates spike in foster care

LISBON — The cost of Columbiana County’s foster care program increased by nearly 40 percent between 2015 and 2016, with the growing opioid problem largely to blame.

That was the message delivered when Columbiana County Department of Job and Family Services Director Eileen Dray-Bardon met this week with county commissioners to ask they adopt a proclamation declaring April Child Abuse Prevention Month.

As part of her presentation, Dray-Bardon provided commissioners with some statistics on the foster care program, which is run by the Children Services division of the JFS. According to the report, the number of children placed in foster care increased by 22 percent over the past year, from an average of 67 per month in 2015 to 82 last year.

Dray-Bardon pointed out that the number of children placed in foster care, after remaining relatively stable in recent years, began to steadily increase in 2016 and the trend has continued into this year. The number for February was 100, which is the first time in eight years foster care exceeded the century mark.

Dray-Bardon and Children Services administrator Rachel Ketterman attributed the increase to the growing number of neglect cases involving parents unwilling or unable to care for their children because of their opioid addiction. Of the 16 new foster care cases this year, nine are due to drug abuse.

“It’s hit us right here in good old Columbiana County,” Dray-Bardon said.

In many instances, children in foster care are placed with relatives, but all receive compensation for assuming responsibility, and not surprisingly, those costs have increased in recent years. According to the JFS, foster care spending skyrocketed by 39.6 percent, from $1.89 million in 2015 to $2.65 million last year.

A Supervised Child Visitation Services Seattle levy passed by voters years ago generates $900,000 annually, all of which goes to pay for foster care. The JFS received a little over $1 million in direct federal reimbursement for foster care, with the remaining $1.55 million coming from the JFS’ annual allocation of federal and state public assistance dollars.

While not a problem for now, it could be if the trend continues. “When foster care numbers were low … we had a bit of a (financial) cushion, but now that is starting to go away,” Dray-Bardon said, adding their association has been lobbying the state legislature for additional funding to address the problem.

This is just the latest example of how the opioid problem is taking more public assistance dollars. Last June, the JFS expanded its gasoline voucher program due in part to the increasing number of grandparents who have legal custody of their grandchildren because the parents are non-functioning drug addicts. This is for those grandparents who travel to Akron Children’s Hospital because their infant grandchildren are being treated after having been born addicted to drugs because the mother continued to use opioids while pregnant.

Two months ago, the JFS contracted with the Community Action Agency to help provide supervised child visitation services because Children Services does not have enough staff to adequately do the job because of the increase in foster care cases, as more children are removed by the courts from their drug-addled parents.

“This is costing government everywhere,” noted Commissioner Jim Hoppel.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

7 Tips for Building Your First Business Website

In this day and age, businesses cannot afford not to have a website in order to operate effectively. Regardless of what products or services you sell, there will be many customers who will only purchase from you after they have checked your website or blog. In many ways, having a website for your business is just as necessary as having a business card, because without either one you may not seem perfectly legitimate.

If you’ve never had to put together a business website before, it’s important that you know the fundamentals of what to do so you don’t walk into it blindly:

Cover the Basics

First and foremost, you’ll want your website to cover all of the basics such as the name and brand logo of your company, your contact information, an ‘about us’ page, directions to your retail location, and so on.

Communicate How You Can Help The Customer

The reason a person is visiting your website in the first place is because they are seeking a product or service they hope will fix a problem of theirs. Therefore, rather than use your website just to inform the customer of what kinds of products you sell, focus your attention on how your products will help or benefit them.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

3 Reasons Why You Still Need Print Media for Your Business

If you own a small business you are probably juggling everything from managing your daily operations, to hiring, payroll, marketing, and managing your team. If you have a physical brick and mortar store, a consulting firm, an online business or a service-based business you also know how important social media marketing is to driving business and traffic to your website. As we move into the new year, social media will become even more large scale as studies have shown that it drives consumer buying decisions at ever increasing rates.

While social media is extremely important, remaining an omni-channel business is the way to go in today’s competitive business climate. You don’t want to put all your focus into the digital space and lose your human element. Having an advertisement in printed marketing materials and print media is still something that many customers and clients respond to. From leaflets and flyers, to business cards, and to high quality presentation boxes and more, print media marketing is highly relevant to business today, especially for the reasons below.

Effective for Specific Geographic Areas

If you are a local business owner and you are looking to promote a specific event or promotion for your business, advertising in local magazines and newspapers is the way to go. You will be attracting a highly-targeted group of local returning clients as well as potential new clients that may be able to attend your event or take part in your promotion by coming into your store. This is also cost effective for you as a business owner because you are not wasting time or money reaching people that are out of range from a geographic perspective.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

8 Secret Elements to Success in Retail Business

Retail business is in many ways very similar to any other kind of business. You are looking to draw in as many people as possible, keep them there by delivering a top-notch service, and hopefully encourage them to tell their friends and families, in the hope that they will do the same. In many ways, retail has it even easier than some other kinds of business. After all, you are looking at a physical shop, and it is often much easier to get people to walk into your shop than to get them to come to another kind of business. Of course, it is not all rose-tinted – retail also has its own set of unique challenges. In this article, we are going to focus solely on the shopping experience itself. It goes without saying that we want this to be as good as possible for our customers – but how do we actually go about achieving that? Let’s take a look at some of the things we need to do to make the shopping experience more memorable and enjoyable for our customers.


You might have already heard of the concept of engagement; put simply, it is the process by which the customer services staff interact positively, playfully, with the customers. For retail businesses, engagement begins the moment that the customer steps inside the door. From the word go, you want to be sure that they feel welcomed and as though they are a part of things. You achieve this simply by training your employees to respond positively to the customer the moment they step through the door. Engagement can sound quite cold on the face of it, but it is actually a normal, human process when it is done properly. Engage with your customers, and they will feel happier to be there straight away.