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Help available through children services and senior services

Nov 26, 2023Nov 26, 2023

Jun 8, 2023

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Belmont County agencies are able to provide assistance for families in need of help.

On Wednesday, the commissioners approved a subgrant agreement between the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and the Ohio Department of Medicaid, effective June 1, 2023-June 30, 2025. They noted this is necessary for the Belmont County DJFS to receive state and federal funding for public assistance, child support and children services. The programs utilize Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding.

DJFS Director Jeff Felton said Ohio is one of the few states that sets aside TANF funds to support families. The exact amount is not yet known.

"It's probably several million dollars. We don't know yet because the budget — the state budget — hasn't been shown," Felton said. "The state is the grantee and we’re the subgrantee. It allows us to get the allocation from the state and feds to our county. … It's our major funding source."

He said annual assistance was limited to $1,500 per family. Due to inflation and other issues, this has been increased to $2,000.

"A lot of the services there are for Children Services. If somebody's behind on rent or if somebody's behind on utilities, we’re able to pay some of those bills on behalf of that family so the children don't have to come into foster care or find some other residence," he said. "It's good for the family. It keeps them together. More importantly, it's best for the kids."

He said the agencies are able to assist families with other expenses as well.

"We’re pleased that Ohio continues to allow us to support families directly," Felton said.

He added that the majority of the caseload consists of children living with grandparents or other relatives.

Felton said his office also seeks out unused funds other counties are returning to the state.

"We’ve taken a very aggressive approach," Felton said. "We’re going to try to get as many tax dollars into Belmont County. These dollars go back into the economy."

Commissioner J.P. Dutton commented on the programs.

"These are federal funds that make their way into the state of Ohio, then down to the county level in Belmont County. We really try to make a focus specifically on children in Belmont County and try to see how we can use these federal funds to better the lives of children in Belmont County who qualify," Dutton said.

Some of the projects include a program to provide clothing and backpacks for children starting the school year every August and September. The county also works with the Farm Bureau to provide backpacks full of food, recently utilizing about $183,000 for the latest food backpack program, or about 15,000 meals for children in the Barnesville Village Exempted, Union Local, Bellaire Local and St. Clairsville-Richland City school districts.

"Making sure that kids that may have food insecurity have food to make it through the weekend, that's the toughest part for some children in Belmont County. We really are trying to make sure that we use these funds to make a big impact for the youth of Belmont County," Dutton said, adding that Ohio is one of the states that sets aside funds for these purposes. "I think it's a good use of these funds. … I think the state of Ohio does a good job to distribute it. I think that we in Belmont County do a fairly good job of choosing how we apply programs to it. It's just a win-win for the really targeted area."

He commended Felton's leadership.

"This is one of the focuses of his long career. He's an expert when it comes to these types of issues. We’re fortunate to have him here in Belmont County, leading the agency," he said.

Also, the commissioners approved the Passport Provider Agreement with the Area Agency on Aging effective July 1, 2023-June 30, 2025 on behalf of Senior Services of Belmont County. Passport, a home- and community-based Medicaid waiver program, offers services to adults older than 60 who qualify. Senior Services provides home-delivered meals to Passport participants. Senior Services was reimbursed more than $320,000 in 2022.

The commissioners also recognized June as Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month and heard from Amy Elliott, hospice liaison with Amedisys Hospice Care based in St. Clairsville and serving Belmont, Monroe, Jefferson and Guernsey counties. She spoke about an upcoming Northern Panhandle Walk to End Alzheimer's at 2 p.m. Sept. 24 at Wheeling Park. Registration is at 1 p.m.

"All of the funds raised that day go toward the Alzheimer's Association to hopefully someday find a cure for Alzheimer's and dementia. Anybody can participate," she said. "You can sign up individually, or you can also sign up a team. It is a very quick walk around Wheeling Park, but a very meaningful walk around Wheeling Park."

For more information or to sign up, visit the Walk to End Alzheimer's website at

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