Matthew Kurtz & Scott Boone

Scott Boone, left, assistant director of Knox County Job & Family Services, and Matthew Kurtz, director of KCJFS. 

MOUNT VERNON – On Tuesday, the Knox County commissioners approved the placement of a 1.0-mill levy for Knox County Children Services on the May 4 ballot. Every dollar generated by this levy will go toward rising placement costs for children in the care of Knox County Children Services.

“The need for additional funding is directly related to the ongoing need to care for children through foster, kinship and residential placements,” said Matthew Kurtz, director of the Knox County Department of Job & Family Services. “The need for specialized residential placement is particularly costly, but very necessary for youths who struggle with psychological, behavioral and/or substance use issues.”

Knox County Children Services provides protective and ongoing services and prioritizes helping families keep their children safe from abuse and neglect. The drug crisis throughout the state continues and Knox County is not immune. On average, 53 percent of children are in the custody of KCCS due to drug-related issues, but domestic violence and gross neglect also contribute to the number of children in the county’s care.

“The complexity and intensity of issues that consistently challenge the families that we advocate for has increased dramatically within the last 12 months,” said Scott Boone, KCDJFS assistant director. “We are regularly coming into contact with parents, caregivers, and children that are significantly affected by not one but multiple menacing conditions including, but not limited to: family violence, substance abuse, mental illness, homelessness, poverty, and lack of education, as well as debilitating physical and developmental afflictions.”

Funding for Knox County Children Services is comprised of 46 percent federal funds, 36 percent local funds and 18 percent state funds. The levy will raise an estimated $1,654,900 per year for Children Services, costing the owner of a $100,000 home $35 a year, as stated by the Certificate of Estimated Property Tax by the Knox County Auditor.

“This additional 1.0-mill levy is vital for our operations in order to provide stability to families in crisis,” Kurtz said. “We are doing everything we can to keep operational costs low; however, we could not have predicted the high number of placements we continue to have or the need for specialized care. We are asking for the community’s support to ensure we can provide essential services to families in need.”

Preventing and reporting child abuse, neglect and exploitation are also important things the community can do. If you have concerns of abuse or neglect, reports can be may to our 24-hour hotline 740-392-KIDS (5437).

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