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Newsletter - October 2018


Hello and welcome to the October edition of Commissioner Connection!
brown-(1).jpg It’s hard to believe that it’s already fall and time for the last commissioner newsletter of the year.  2018 has already been a momentous year. In January, we created a new family leave policy for Board of Commissioners employees, and joined the nationwide lawsuit against makers and distributors of opiates that have contributed to the ongoing overdose crisis.  We later approved money to join the Age-Friendly initiative to make Central Ohio as welcoming as possible to our older residents, and called on the Ohio Legislature to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation gender identity or expression. 

I’m particularly proud of several accomplishments, including Franklin County’s recognition as a national leader in justice and public safety.  You can read about some other national awards our team has recently won here and here.  We also announced a new county energy study that looked at how our community uses energy, where it’s being wasted, and how we can better manage and conserve it, and received unprecedented dual Triple-A ratings for some of our bonds, which is an indicator of how strong and well-managed our county is. 

In this edition of Commissioner Connection, you’ll get to read about an amazing and long-time county partner, Godman Guild, as well as getting to know another of our great staff members in the Child Support office.  There’s also an introduction to two exciting new county programs that are helping some of our low-income neighbors to move up into the middle class, and a guest column from Franklin County Health Commissioner, Joe Mazzola.  (For tips on avoiding the flu this year, visit the Franklin County Health Department website.)

Thanks again for taking the time to read our quarterly newsletter, and feel free to reach out to our office via the Board of Commissioners’ website.  You can keep track of everything happening in our community by following the board on Facebook and Twitter as we continue making Franklin County a great place to build a business or raise a family. You can also see what else we worked on over the past year in the 2018 State of the County Report.  


Marilyn Brown
Franklin County Commissioner  

Building Healthier and More Prosperous Futures For Franklin County Residents

PROSPEROUS-FUTURES-HARD-HATS-(1).jpgThe Franklin County Commissioners are keeping a close eye on two recent initiatives aimed at helping residents move from the rolls of county social services clients to self-sufficiency. Two of the industries that are growing particularly quickly in our community are Healthcare and Construction. These are also industries that pay employees well, but there are shortages of well-qualified workers. The first of the two new programs is called Building Futures, and is a partnership with the Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council and the local service provider, IMPACT Community Action.  It’s a pre-apprenticeship pilot program that helps low-income county residents transition in to apprentice programs in the skilled construction trades.  Up to 30 students participate in each class, and the second class just graduated on October 11th.

Apprenticeship is the traditional process for training and educating a worker as a skilled construction craftsperson, and involves both classroom and on-the-job instruction.  It’s a necessary first step to a good job in the construction field, and Building Futures helps prepare participants to progress into an apprenticeship to become a skilled tradesperson like an electrician, carpenter, plumber, sheet metal worker, or welder.  Participants start with three weeks of soft skills and assessments before moving on to safety certification, construction-specific literacy and math, and trade-specific instruction.  They also receive a $250 per week stipend for their time.

The second new initiative is a partnership with The Ohio State University College of Nursing, and is just getting off the ground.  The program, called Building Healthcare Futures will provide funding to the College of Nursing to train three cohorts of approximately 25 new community health workers.  The infant mortality reduction nonprofit, CelebrateOne is also involved and will help with both the training and hiring of the program’s students.

Community health workers are frontline public health workers who enjoy a particularly close relationship with and understanding of the community in which they are serving.  The trust they are able to build in their community allows them to serve as a liaison to health and social services resources within the community, and to facilitate access to those services for residents.  They also help build self-sufficiency within the community through outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support, and advocacy.  

The 12-week program will graduate participants with a certification from the Ohio State University College of Nursing after 104 hours of classroom instruction and 130 hours of practical experience in the field.  These students will also receive a stipend during their time in the

PROSPEROUS-FUTURES-BABY.jpgThrough both of these initiatives, the commissioners are investing in individual residents and in our community.  By helping low-income residents transition from the social services rolls to the middle class, the programs can save the county money and be life changing for families.

For more information about Building Futures or Building Healthcare Futures,


godman-logo-big.png For one hundred and twenty years, Godman Guild Associationhas beenserving residents of Columbus’ most challenged communities, having begun in the former Flytown neighborhood, which was situated
north of downtown in the 1800s. 

The mission of Godman Guild is to promote strong families and strong communities in Columbus, Ohio.  The Guild meets our most vulnerable community members where they are and provides them with the support and access to resources needed to increase their social and economic mobility. The Guild accomplishes this by offering programs to youth and adults that focus on educational achievement and economic development, using a trauma informed approach. For adults, the Guild offers leadership development training, adult education leading to a high school equivalency certification, skills training, transitional employment opportunities and employer focused on-the-job training that all help to build pathways out of poverty for hundreds of Franklin County families. 
As a contracted provider of services for the commissioners’ Department of Job and Family Services (JFS), the Guild is able to positively impact the lives of hundreds of Franklin County youth.  This year, as in years past, Godman Guild is one of a number of organizations providing services to young people through JFS’ Summer Success Program.  The Summer Success Program serves about 5,000 TANF-eligible Franklin County youth through two programs. Children aged 5-13 participate in a daily summer camp program, and young people aged 14-18 are working summer jobs.  Both groups are provided with comprehensive wrap-around services to help grow the whole person and meet many of their needs so that they can succeed today and in the future.

The Godman Guild’s Summer Youth Empowerment Program (SYEP), based at Camp Mary Orton, served about 150 kids aged 5-13 this year and provided them with STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts, and Math) focused hands-on learning activities coupled with social/emotional skill development. Young people attending SYEP also participate in character building, multi-cultural awareness, health and nutrition, nature appreciation and leadership development programming. The Guild staff know that children not engaged in summer learning activities experience learning loss, and that the learning gap is increased for disengaged youth from lower socio-economic backgrounds.  The summer programing provides the kids with an opportunity for continued growth, to explore new skills and interests, and to keep up with their academics.  The summer camp program also supports the children’s families by providing a safe and nurturing environment for school-aged children, allowing adult family members to work during the day. The program is 10 weeks long, provides nutritious meals, field trips, and is free to participating families.
The Godman Guild’s 2018 summer employment program served about 130 eligible teenagers this year.  The jobs these young people worked this summer not only provided them with much needed financial resources, but also provided them with the opportunity to develop skills, obtain training, and gain valuable work experience, all leading to future career success. The participants worked at least 160 hours over the summer, and were being paid $9.00 per hour.  They also received comprehensive case management services, such as mentoring, skills training, financial literacy instruction, and access to other supportive services throughout the summer and into the school year.

GODMAN-KIDS-(1).jpg​Godman Guild is one of several dozen community partners working with the commissioners on the
Summer Success Program to help grow and develop our young people and help strengthen the neighborhoods they live in throughout Franklin County. 

It’s a partnership that directly benefits thousands of families each year, and every county resident for many years to come will benefit as these young people grow up, enter the fulltime workforce, and raise families of
their own. 

Godman Guild has been an important part of our community since 1898, and its deep roots and far reaching impact are helping to change lives for the better today and for generations to come.

For more information about the Godman Guild, visit


CAITLIN-CAMPBELL-(1).jpgFranklin County’s Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) helps parents to establish and enforce child support orders to enhance the economic security and health insurance protection for the children and families in our community.  The agency currently has nearly 80,000 open cases, and its Collections of Arrears rate is the best in the state among metropolitan counties.  The agency is continually working to improve its processes for its clients and their children, including through a number of innovative programs that help make Franklin County a national leader in the Child Support field. 

One of the people helping to lead the agency and working to help families navigate the sometimes confusing child support system is Social Program Developer, Caitlin Campbell.

Thanks for taking the time to tell people about what you do, Caitlin.  Can you first tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be in your current position?

I’m always glad to talk about what we do here at CSEA, because I think it’s so important.  I grew up in Hilliard, went to Arizona State University and The Ohio State University, and worked for a while for a large hospital system.  In college, I switched majors from Psychology to Sociology specifically because I wanted to work with people, which is also why I left the private sector and came to work for the county. 

What is the program that you run here in Child Support?

The program is called New Directions in Child Support, and its purpose is to develop and test some new ways of working with parents who owe back child support to help them meet their obligations and avoid court and incarceration.  It’s part of a federally funded grant that also includes a random control trial to test which of the new methods are most effective and figure out how to scale those up in the future.  Some clients follow the normal process, others come to our new program, and we track the results.

So you work exclusively with parents who are already well behind on their child support?  That must be very hard for the custodial parent, and it must seem hopeless to the parent that owes the money.

Yes.  Both of those, but it’s important that we start working toward getting each obligor (the parent who owes the support) back on track.  Traditionally, these parents would end up in court and often be found in contempt for non-payment.  We use the procedural justice concepts of helpfulness, understanding, neutrality, voice, and respect to work toward alternatives to the contempt process, and try to find ways to help the non-custodial parents to meet their obligations.

Can you explain those terms, and “procedural justice concepts”?

It’s a matter of meeting the obligor wherever they may be, and working with them without judgment.  For instance, we talk about things being fair.  That doesn’t mean that the obligor is always going to agree with a support order, but for them to at least feel like it’s fair does require that they understand it and how it came to be.  “Voice” is important because non-custodial parents often feel like their voices aren’t heard in the process, so we take the time to build a relationship with them.  Again, they won’t always agree, but it’s important that they do get their say in the matter because people won’t participate in a system that they don’t understand or that feels rigged against them.  These things don’t have to be revolutionary to be effective.  It’s about treating people the way you’d like to be treated.

So, you build these relationships; how does that help the obligor meet their responsibilities?

The relationship is the part that enables the rest of the work.  We try to identify why the client hasn’t been paying, and then to remove those barriers, and we have a lot of tools to help do that.  We work with a variety of partner organizations, and can provide connection to social services, resources for job training, transportation, literacy, financial management, soft skills training or interview practice, mediation and parenting classes, and much more.  When we’re able to help somebody get their own life on track, and help them to understand and be comfortable with the child support order, their success at paying is much higher. 

So, what kind of results are you seeing?

We’re only in year two of the 5-year trial, so I can’t share any data or final results.  Anecdotally, though, we’re seeing some really encouraging things.  Some of the folks we work with have accepted the difficulties they face-- they may have no job, no ID, no engagement, and no plan to fix any of that because of the roadblocks they’re facing.  If we can help with a series of little things and instill a little trust in the system, they can move on to take some bigger steps.  It’s really fulfilling to see people work through the process to get to a place where they can meet their obligations, sometimes for the first time, and that’s what it’s about—helping both parents to be the best they can be for their kids.  

What do you wish more people knew about Child Support?

That we have a ton of resources to help families, both custodial parents and obligors, and that we’re really lucky in Franklin County to have so many ways that we can help.

What’s your favorite part of the job, and what’s your biggest challenge?

Working with clients is definitely my favorite thing, and also the biggest challenge.  I want to hear their stories and to be able to offer solutions, but they’ve got to want it too.  Burnout is also a problem- Case managers on my team have a smaller caseload, but every one of their cases is a challenging one.

Anything fun that your county colleagues don’t know about you yet?

Some people don’t know that I spend a week of my vacation each year working as a counselor at a choral camp in the Hocking Hills.  I went there when I was in high school, and have been singing my whole life.  I don’t do solos, though, so don’t ask.
To learn more about the Franklin County Child Support Enforcement Agency and all that it has to offer, visit or call 614-525-3275.


Guest Column
Joe Mazzola, MPA,
Franklin County Health Commissioner

As your health department, it is our mission to improve the health of your community by preventing disease, promoting healthy living and protecting against public health threats. Franklin County Public Health offers many services and resources for families and children.

Our newest program is the Community Cessation Initiative (CCI) of Franklin County. This program offers free cessation services to any Franklin County resident (over 18 years of age) that is ready to quit using tobacco. We have dedicated staff that will guide and follow participants through their quit journey to help ensure success. Now is the time. Make a referral for you, a loved one, or a friend today through our online referral page.
Our nurses offer immunization clinics throughout Franklin County every month for children and adults. Our popular Back-to-School Immunization Clinics are just around the corner. Those fill up very quickly, so schedule your child’s appointment today. A sliding fee scale is available for those with no insurance and no one will be turned away for inability to pay.
Children with Medical Handicaps (CMH), is another busy program at the health department. CMH links families of children with special health care needs with health care providers to obtain payment for medical services. In addition, our public health nurses educate families on safe sleep measures that help protect a baby from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other dangers. Remember the ABCs of safe sleep if there’s a baby in the home. Alone – nothing in the crib, Back – sleep on their back and Crib – a baby needs to sleep in a crib. A couch, bed, floor or any other area is not safe for the baby.

And did you know we offer Low-Cost Rabies Immunization Clinics? The cost for a rabies shot for your dog or cat is only $5.  We host four clinics a year at different locations in the county and average about 200 dogs and cats per clinic. Volunteer veterinarians from the Columbus FLU-VACCINE-(1).jpgAcademy of Veterinary Medicine and MedVet give the shots. Our next clinic is October 19 from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. at Huber Park in Reynoldsburg (1520 Davidson Drive).  
I invite you to visit to find additional details on the programs mentioned above and to learn more about what services Franklin County Public Health offers.




New County Forensic Science Center Underway

In September, the commissioners broke ground on a new Franklin County Forensic Science Center.  The new facility will replace the current morgue on King Avenue, which has been used since 1975, and represents a significant upgrade in both the size and capabilities of the coroner’s office. The new Franklin County Forensic Science Center is custom-designed to facilitate the flow of decedents throughout the building to allow staff to process each of their important cases with speed, safety, and the preservation of dignity

The Franklin County coroner’s office investigates all unattended deaths in Franklin County, as well as those caused by violence, criminal means, and suicide.  Each year, the office investigates approximately 4,000 death cases and performs about 1,500 autopsies.  It also performs laboratory work and otherwise supports nearby counties which may not have sufficient local facilities to address all of their own cases.

The new Forensic Science Center is expected to cost about $37 million, and to open in early 2020.

  • 56,574 square feet
  • Eight autopsy stations
  • Expanded toxicology labs and capabilities
  • Conference space
  • Interior vehicle sally port
  • Targeting a LEED-Rating, including plug-ins for electric vehicles and a solar-ready roof
In addition to being three times the size of the previous morgue, the new facility will have larger facilities for the office’s investigative team and space and equipment to handle infectious disease cases and mass casualty events.

County facilities are generally built, owned, and maintained by the Board of Commissioners though they may be used primarily by another office-holder. 

For information about the county coroner, visit:


November 6th is Election Day

Don’t forget to vote on November 6th, or earlier in person
at the Board of Elections. 

For information about where to vote, when polling places are open, what’s on your ballot, and more,visit the Franklin County Board of Elections at: