Agency History

Agency History

Options for Families and Youth (OFY) is a private, non-profit, 501(C)(3), social service agency licensed by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services since 1989. We are currently licensed as a private, child-placing agency through September 2019. The following is a summary of our service to Cuyahoga County since our inception.

OFY initially began as a provider of specialized and emergency foster care services for the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services (CCDCFS) in 1990. OFY served the needs of children/adolescents who had been neglected; physically, sexually and emotionally abused; and those deemed dependent by the Juvenile Court system. For the past 27 years, OFY addressed the needs of over 4,500 children and adolescents who needed a temporary place to call home while attempts were made to reunify them with their biological families. In early 2017, OFY made a decision to close its foster care services unit. Foster parents then had a choice to transfer to other agencies serving Cuyahoga County or close their home to foster placements. Thankfully, most of OFY’s foster parents decided to continue helping children with other agencies providing care.

In 1995, OFY provided service coordination and home visitation in Cuyahoga County through contracts with Invest In Children and Help Me Grow. OFY was an industry leader in the area of early intervention services in Cuyahoga County. We served over 17,000 children developing a great reputation of offering parent education, child assessment, support and linkages to community services to needy children and their families in Cuyahoga County through our Bright Beginnings program. Our programs and services ended in 2012 when Invest In Children determined to provide those services rather than contracting with private agencies.

In 1997, OFY began to provide adoption services to foster parents for the Cuyahoga County child welfare system and for our own foster parents whose foster children became eligible for adoption. For the past 20 years, we have finalized the adoptions of over 350 children with special needs and will continue this until our contract with Cuyahoga County ends on December 31, 2018.

OFY developed a Behavioral Health Services unit in 2007 after receiving our national accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). We provided individual counseling/therapy to children, adolescents and adults for 9 years. Changes and developments in Ohio’s Medicaid system led to a decision to transition our Behavioral Health Unit to another agency in August of 2016. That agency moved into our location in Brook Park and hired our clinicians so the transition for our clients was a seamless one.

In 2012, OFY applied for and eventually became a Hague-Accredited International Adoption Agency through the Council On Accreditation. Several years attempting to develop a program overseas were eventually terminated in 2016 due to funding and development issues abroad. OFY however did develop our Ohio adoption home study and post-adoption services; partnering as an exempt provider with other international adoption providers. We gained a solid reputation among these agencies for our work.

Over the last two years, the Board of Trustees of Options for Families and Youth along with its co-founders, Mike and Debbie Rush, have implemented a decision to focus the organization’s efforts toward the support of other non-profit agencies rather than providing services. Our mission and efforts continue to center on children and families; strengthening what already exists; identifying needs; and developing a response to meet those needs. It’s what OFY has always done and will continue to do as long as we are able.

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