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Review at agency

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 28, 2015 at 3:48 PM

The Huron County Commissioners denied that an upcoming agency review of the department of job and family services was a "shakedown" and said director Erich Dumbeck's job is not in any danger.

Dumbeck came to the commissioners and said he wanted to do a review of the Huron County Department of Job and Family Services (HCDJFS), said commissioner Mike Adelman, but in order to do that he needed more time. Therefore, HCDJFS Assistant Director Bonnie Richards will temporarily assume some of Dumbeck's duties for about six months so he can focus on children services.

The two will both "spearhead" the review, along with an outside consultant.

"We're not going to do this as a 'shakedown' it's to take an honest look at how things are going. ... We'll look at how we're conducting business and how we'll address these things," Adelman said.

The review is necessary for several reasons, commissioner Ralph Fegley said.

A number of changes are coming at the state level, including new adoption and foster care laws, changes to the Medicaid and Workforce Investment programs as well as state administration changes in the form of a new governor and state director of JFS.

"The old story 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' (is) totally wrong," Fegley said, adding the commissioners are taking a "continuous improvement" approach to managing HCDJFS.

However, the much publicized cases of adopted parents Michael and Sharen Gravelle and foster parent Paul Efaw also were factors leading to the review. All three people were convicted for offenses involving children.

But, when asked point blank if Dumbeck's job was in any jeopardy, both Adelman and Fegley said he was safe.

"No, it's not (in jeopardy). If it was we'd have already taken care of that," Fegley said. "You have to decide if you're going to help him or not. And we've decided to help."

As part of that help, Columbus resident Chester Bowling, an OSU Extension specialist with experience in organizational development, will be brought in to serve as an outside consultant, Fegley said.

"He's the independent party that helps in the efforts to go through the process to make sure we stay on track," Fegley said.

Adelman said that, as of this morning, it was unclear if Bowling would be charging for his services. If he does charge, Adelman said HCDJFS would foot the bill out of its budget and the money would not come from the county's general fund.

"We do many things right and will continue, however, we now need to focus on the future," Dumbeck said in a release. "The goal of these changes is to enhance the quality of customer service, streamline programs and to focus on the changes in policies and procedures from the state level."

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