After 20 years of service at SCOPE, plus another 20 in other social services work, I planned retirement for two years and I prepared to visit our daughter in Europe in April. I would like to make the following points:
The AAA (Area Agency on Aging District 11), which conducts the reviews for the Ohio Department on Aging, has conducted compliance reviews every year for the past 20 years. SCOPE has always fulfilled needed compliance which involves hundreds of technical rules.
SCOPE has never been asked to provide any background checks for non-direct care staff, and upon reading the Ohio Revised Code several times it clearly states "direct care." Since SCOPE senior centers are for healthy, older adults seeking friendship and activity - and not nursing homes or hospitals - there is no "direct care" involved. SCOPE instructs its staff to refer any problem area to the licensed social workers, R.N. or L.P.N. intake staff at the corporate offices.
In December 2011, after a meeting with AAA staff and ODA representative, SCOPE initiated background checks on its own accord for all staff. A corrections policy was provided, but my calls for clarification were ignored. We submitted what I thought they wanted - but still received no responses. In April, with no notice, palliative calls came from SCOPE's Passport clients, who were contacted directly by AAA District 11 and advised to change their providers. Afterwards I received communication from the ODA with a statement of what they wanted.
SCOPE has never had a human resource officer or compliance officer. SCOPE does have a grants officer, to see that the grant and regulatory processes are being followed, and to advise if it was not. In addition, the Home Care Department watched hiring practices. Anyone familiar with not-for-profit organizations knows that we continue to do more with less all the time. So the work was done, to my knowledge.
SCOPE provided more than 10,000 units of service in 2011. SCOPE needed more administrative staff, but strained to serve with every dollar. All SCOPE staff took a 10 percent cut in pay about five years ago, never reinstated. All SCOPE programs, including the Harbor Adult Day Care, with transportation, the Home Care (Chore, Homemaker and Personal Care) Howland, Niles, and Warren SCOPE Centers, and social work were in place, small but mighty, years before the senior services levy passed. Champion, Cortland, and Lordstown facilities were developed with county levy funds. SCOPE gratefully relies upon those taxpayer funds, United Way, the Episcopal Diocese, and donations for operating dollars.
I will always take great pride in SCOPE's successes, a real little engine that could, and did. I am deeply disappointed the Tribune Chronicle and other elements of the community would make me and / or SCOPE a scapegoat without complete knowledge.
Janet E. Schweitzer