STEUBENVILLE - For more than 100 years, Family Service Association has focused on strengthening families through counseling, education and other social services.
But the agency and its board recently began a strategic plan with a goal to get back to its roots of providing counseling to families, said Kathy Cardiff, executive director.
Family Services Association provides mental health assessment and counseling to individuals from children to senior citizens and families. The agency is state certified and nationally accredited.
FUTURE PLANNING – Family Service Association has been working on a strategic plan for the agency. Russell Curry, clinical director, and Kathy Cardiff, executive director, review some of the agency’s future service plans. Family Service has been providing individual and family counseling services for more than 100 years. -- Mark Law
The agency also has a guardianship program in which staff make all decisions for persons deemed by probate court to be unable to make their own decision.
There also has a representative payee program for persons receiving Social Security funding who are determined to be unable to handle their own money.
Family Service operates two licensed day care centers, one at 601 Market St. and the other at Eastern Gateway Community College.
Cardiff said the agency's board recently held a focus group where other social service agencies critiqued the services the agency provides. Then the board and management team held a planning session where work was done on a three-year strategic plan.
"We tried to get as much input as possible from the community," Cardiff said.
"We want to do more mental health counseling. We don't want to get away from our roots. Our roots are counseling," she said.
One area the board wants to get back into is adoption services.
Russell Curry, clinical director, said funding has become a problem for all social services agencies in the county with the cut in state dollars. Curry said the agency provides counseling services to the working poor who may not have insurance through their employers. He said the agency has to do a better job at capturing insurance funding.
Cardiff said the agency doesn't want to turn away any person who may not be able to pay for services.
Jefferson County Prevention and Recovery Board receives about $6.6 million in federal, state and local funding and distributes the money to local agencies. Pamela Petrilla, Prevention and Recovery Board executive director, said the county has lost $2 million in funding over the past three years.
Cardiff said Family Service wants to do more group counseling and provide educational services, such as smoking cessation. She said Family Services wants to expand programs available to people living in group homes and partnering with other agencies to provide help.
Curry said the agency receives funding from the United Way of Jefferson County to help provide services to the working poor. The agency received an increase in referrals for people who couldn't go to any other social service agency because of state funding cuts. He said the referrals have eaten away at the United Way funding.
"We have used up our funding resources, and we are struggling," he said.
The agency currently has about 130 persons receiving mental health counseling.
Family Services is a member of the drug court operated through juvenile court. The agency also provides mental health counseling to adolescents.
Curry said more children are being diagnosed with behavioral problems and mental health issues.
The agency provides couple's counseling, help with parent-child conflicts and drug and alcohol counseling, when it is determined to be a secondary diagnosis.
"People are willing to come here and seek services because of family problems," Curry said.
Cardiff said people may be more willing to turn to Family Service for help because of the stigma of seeing a psychiatrist.
There are 48 people who are served through the guardianship program at Family Service.
Cardiff said caseworkers make all the decisions for people whom the court system says are unable to make their own decisions concerning their lives. She said there is a caseworker on call who can make those decisions - regardless of the time - such as medical treatment. Cardiff said those people can't manage their lives or their money and many don't have nearby trusted family members.
There are 200 people enrolled in the payee program. The agency's staff makes all the financial decisions regarding government funding because the Social Security Administration has determined the person is not capable of managing his or her money.
Cardiff said the agency pays all the clients bills and once a week does a personal needs check to determine items the clients need.
"We distribute the money based on what they want," she said.
Curry said the payee system came about after the construction of homeless shelters years ago. Many of the homeless were living on the street and weren't receiving government checks because they had no permanent address. With homeless shelters, the person is now able to get a Social Security check but are unable to manage his or her finances, he said.
Cardiff said Family Service is a property manager for individual and family housing. She noted the agency's day care centers are open to the general public.
The Day Care Depot at 601 Market St. is open for infants age 6-weeks through 12. The day care center at Eastern Gateway Community College is open for toddlers through age 12.
Hours are from 6:15 a.m. through 6 p.m.
"The centers focus on providing an atmosphere that is conducive to the development of young children, while promoting positive self-esteem," Cardiff said.