Portage County voters approve longstanding levy, funding for local child care services


Issue 17

Jimmy Miller

Issue 17, a 0.75-mill levy used to aide funding for an increase in resources for Portage County Child Services, passed with 65 percent of the vote Tuesday night.

“(The levy) gives critical services in taking care of these kids facing abuse or neglect,” said Carole Beaty, chief program officer at Family and Community Services, Inc. in Ravenna. “I really strongly believe that we have to take care of our children as they’re the ones that determine our future as a community.” 

Voters first passed the levy in 1985. The money from the levy funds the CARES program, a 24-hour child abuse and neglect reporting hotline. The tax is a renewal and resembles the initial levy from nearly 30 years ago, Beaty said.

Kim Bushek, public information officer at the Portage County Department of Job and Family Services, said the levy is critical in continuing to protect children in the county.

“It enables us to continue with our services and maintains (the services),” Bushek said. “We’re really excited (the levy passed). I feel positive.”

The county outbreak of heroin and meth users is being used as a rallying cry surrounding Issue 17. Bushek said they hope the levy money will help with chipping away at the problem. 

“I can’t tell the future, but we’re really working toward maintaining…drug and alcohol assessments and parenting education,” Bushek said. “Our main goal is to keep children in their homes.”

Beaty said one of the biggest problems in the heroin and meth issue is that entire families are being affected by the drugs.

“Generally, when children are at risk from being removed from their parents, you’re usually able to look at placing them with a close family member,” Beaty said. “(In this situation), a lot of times those family members are also being impacted, too.”

Contact Jimmy Miller at [email protected].