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Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

Cheryl Ann completes privatization process

By Cheryl McKirnan
CELINA - Cheryl Ann board members on Monday learned Mercer County has completed the privatization process required by the state.
As a private entity, the board will contract with private providers for client services rather than employ all providers.
Cheryl Ann Superintendent Shawn Thieman said in Ohio's 88 counties, 48 developmental disability boards have privatized and 29 are in the process. All counties must be privatized by 2024.
"Even though the process was painful at times, and we experienced growing pains, we have emerged as a stronger coordinator of client services, with more options available for more clients," Thieman said.
Mercer County is at level two of nine possible tiers or categories in the rate of reimbursements for direct-care service providers.
Although larger metropolitan counties tend to be placed in higher categories, size is not always a determining factor, Thieman said. Cuyahoga County is the only Category 9 county in the state.
Darke County is at Category 4, and Auglaize county is at Category 2. Thieman said if one provider offers services for more than one county, the higher level allows for increased billing to the state, which allows the provider to pay higher wages to its employees and for a provider to choose one county over another.
The tiers were created in 1996, and "to move up in categories, county boards must provide funding in a match to the state funding, which increases our budget, but in the long run, it is worth it," Thieman said.
Cheryl Ann Transition Specialist Karen Leugers reported on the success of the summer program for the 16-17 and 18-21 age levels.
"Schools assumed that transition services were provided by Cheryl Ann, and Cheryl Ann assumed that transition services were provided by the schools," said Leugers, who had formerly served as a school specialist.
"This year's summer program for 16- and 17-year-olds focused on social skills and community exploration and focusing on how they can become a part of the community," he said.
Participants took part in activities in local service businesses, including Wellness to the Core, Lake Nutrition and Hot Brass for self defense.
They participated in a family game night and learned about "green screen" technology as part of Emily Fisher's University of St. Francis art therapy program. The group also learned how to make doughnuts at the St. Henry Bake Shop and visited the Scene 75 bumper cars and chaos room in Dayton.
The 18-21 age group concentrated on social skills, job tours and understanding employment needs and requirements.
The group visited Crown Controls, Bob Evans, Chief Supermarket, Celina Pet Center, Tomorrow's Technology Today and Pax Machine.
Beth Gehret, service and support administrator, said just over one-third of Cheryl Ann's adult clients are employed in regular jobs.
In other business, IT specialist Claire Loughridge reported on the progress of installing a new on-site computer server.
The one being replaced recently was damaged during an electrical storm. Emphasis is on power-outage protection and disaster recovery with a back-up that allows a power down rather than an abrupt shutdown, to avoid corrupted data.
The board and staff also shared plans and ideas to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Cheryl Ann, entitled "Always There."
Ohio legislation to mandate county developmental disability boards was signed into law at the state level on Oct. 29, 1967.
An Open House from 4-7 p.m. Oct. 25 will include building tours, family activities, a scavenger hunt, a historical video, food and refreshments and if possible, a visual display of the numbers of people - adults, children and infants - who have received services through the Cheryl Ann program over the years.
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