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Lucas County Children Services

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The 1970s - 1980s

The success of the 1968 levy and the availability of federal funds in the 1970s hastened a period of growth for the agency. The agency was decentralized in the early 1970s, in an effort to move social workers closer to clients and also to relieve the overcrowding of employees at the main administration building. Satellite units were deployed in the central city and the north, west and south ends of town. Two day care centers were established, a unit of school social workers and a status offender unit were added to the agency, and three group homes, two for toddlers and one for teenagers, were opened. The agency also had caseworkers assigned to the Toledo Mental Health Center, the Medical College of Ohio and the Boys Club.

In 1970, the former hospital building at MCC was converted into an Extended Care Unit (ECU) to provide long-term care for severely retarded children. At the time, LCCSB was the only child protection agency in the state to operate such a facility. In 1971, the county commissioners voted to consolidate social services for children into a single agency, the Children Services Board. Until that time, family counseling, day care, homemaker and home management services, and child development had been provided by both LCCSB and the welfare department. The commissioners made the change because LCCSB stood a better chance of attracting federal matching funds.

In 1973, the agency began to offer income-based subsidies for families adopting children. The subsidy plan, authorized by state law, was intended to encourage more adoptions by low-income families. After nearly 100 years of providing formal education at its Maumee campus, the agency closed its Riverside School following the 1977-78 school year. The 25 students were transferred to other schools within the county system.

Through most of the decade, an average of 250 children lived at the Miami Children's Center. By 1978, however, the population had declined to about 170 children. The LCCSB's deliberate attempts to move as many children as possible out of institutionalized care led to the eventual closing of the MCC in 1986. That left the ECU, which served 32 children, as the lone remaining residential facility on campus.

In 1981 the Board of Trustees was enlarged from nine to 14 members and assumed its current role as an oversight body and policy developer. Eight board committees were formed to help the board fulfill its new role. These changes followed a comprehensive study of the agency by the Toledo Area Government Research Association (TAGRA), which made several recommendations for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the agency. With the closing of the MCC, the agency's board opted to redirect those resources toward new programs, and in 1986 the agency began to provide additional services for children with special needs. Foster families were trained to provide day care for blind and hyperactive children and those requiring medical monitors, an effort intended to move these children out of institutions and into family settings.

Also in 1986, the agency established its independent living program, designed to help young adult clients who are soon to be emancipated from agency care. Recognizing the critical need for staff training, the state government and child advocacy groups formed the Ohio Child Welfare Training Program in 1985. LCCSB became one of eight agencies in the state to continuously host a regional training center for child welfare workers.

In the fall of 1977, the majority of the casework staff moved to the Collingwood Center, the former Flower Hospital building in Toledo. About 83 employees worked in this building until November of 1982, when they were relocated to Miami Children's Center. The agency's emphasis on foster care instead of group home care had resulted in a decrease in the Center's resident population. In turn, MCC's receiving center was converted to an office building to accommodate the return of the agency staff.

The 1.5 mill levy was renewed by large margins in 1972 and 1977. By the beginning of 1981, however, the agency faced a serious financial crisis. The agency's carryover funds had become depleted, caused in part by a reduction in federal funds. As a result, 15 percent of the agency's staff was laid off, and the agency announced that it might have to close the ECU for lack of funds. Also, one month after the layoffs, LCCSB employees went on a 16-day strike, the first in the agency's history. All if this occurred during the TAGRA study.

The ECU was kept open after the Ohio Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities agreed to provide funding until the ECU could become certified under the federal Medicaid program. After making many improvements in the building's structure and in the program offered its residents, the ECU became certified in 1983 as an intermediate care facility. In order to be able to meet the needs of the children of Lucas County, LCCSB went to the voters in November of 1981 to seek passage of a new 1.0 mill levy. Passage of that levy made it possible for LCCSB to restore some of the services that had been cut or reduced during 1981. In 1982, the agency's 1.5 mill levy was renewed for the third time. Voters also approved agency levy requests in 1986 (1.5 mill) and 1988 (1.25 mill).

In 1988, "Board" was dropped from the agency's name, making "Lucas County Children Services" the official name of the agency.