The administrator of children services for the county announced this morning he plans to retire this fall.
David Broehl, 60, has been with the Huron County Department of Job and Family Services (HCDJFS) since 2002. He said the decision to retire is based on his age and eligibility under the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System.
Broehl said the high profile cases of Michael and Sharen Gravelle and Paul Efaw, and the ensuing public criticism, were not part of his decision making process. Nor, he said, was the pending review of the entire agency in fact Broehl said he welcomes the review, which he expects to be completed before he retires Sept. 7.
"This has been a very positive experience," he said of working in Huron County. "The thing I've enjoyed the most is the people. What you see is what you get, there are no faades. You're just getting really straightforward people."
Broehl, who lives in Wooster and admitted the daily 45-minute drive was wearing on him, is active in the community. He works with the United Fund, Firelands Historical Society and is the coach of the girls' soccer team at Norwalk High School a position he would like to retain next season.
Prior to joining HCDJFS, Broehl worked for Trumbull County from 1997 to 2002 and for 20 years in the private sector as a management consultant.
Working in children services can be "extremely difficult" at times.
"We have some families that are in trauma. We have some parents who are involved with drugs or alcohol. We have some parents with mental health issues. We have some families that are breaking apart," Broehl said. "From the outside looking in, we say 'Who's got the magic wand? Let's wave that wand and fix that family.' It's not that easy. We're dealing with the most difficult issues in society."
The harsh realities of children services can drive some workers out of the job after just a few years.
"I go to state meetings where we have 88 children services' administrators and I'm the oldest. I think that that's a signal to me," Broehl said. He added that Huron County has been fortunate and many of the 19 children services employees have been at the agency for a long time. "I think it is tough, it's a tough profession. Our employees are not paid a lot of money ... they are in it because they love the work."
However, even with all the challenges and criticisms, Broehl said the job also is rewarding. The best experience of his tenure was early on when the agency had six female siblings up for adoption. Children services wanted to keep the siblings together, which they thought would be difficult. Broehl said the county had 27 applications, eventually narrowed down to three families without any other children all of which would have been great.
"We did choose one family, and when that family was united that day, it really was one of the finest days of my life," he said, getting choked up. "It was spectacular. I get a little shaken up in a very positive way. That was really an incredible experience ... We deal with a lot of dysfunction and a lot of negatives, if we can get people to a good place in life, that's the positive."