Job and Family Services will hold open interviews to fill ISO social worker positions

To attract employees, Job and Family Services of Portage County is holding open interviews for positions at the agency from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 19 at Ohio Means Jobs, located at 253 S. Chestnut St. in Ravenna. 

JFS, the largest department in the county government, is looking for five eligibility specialists in its public assistance department and four social service workers in child and adult protective services and group homes.

Pay for eligibility specialists starts at $17.78 an hour. Applicants are expected to have an associate’s degree in human services, human development, psychology, sociology or a business-related field.

Social service worker positions start at $19.92. Successful applicants will hold bachelor’s degrees in a social service field.

If the pay sounds low, the agency points out that in January 2023 both positions will see a wage increase of $1.53 an hour. That will make the pay competitive, JFS Workforce Administrator Mandy Minnick says.

Social service workers respond to calls alerting the agency that a child or adult may be in a dangerous situation, work with families who are trying to keep children in their homes, and ensure that certain adults are being treated properly, Minnick said.

“It’s a job that can be tough. You’re working with vulnerable populations,” JFS Public Information Officer Sarah Taylor said.

The counterpoint is knowing that you have profoundly helped a person in need, Minnick said.

Full-time employees in both positions will belong to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and receive union benefits. The positions pay into the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, not Social Security. JFS also offers generous sick time, personal time and holiday time, Minnick said.

Minnick and Taylor agree that attracting and keeping staff is a challenge. Pay, job demands, hours and stress can be a challenge, JFS Director Kellijo Jeffries said.

To entice workers in a tight job market, JFS allows employees to work in the office two days a week and from home three days a week. Flex time is also encouraged, allowing employees the ability to tend to their children or participate in events that may take place during regular work hours.

Interested? Bring your ID and resume to the job fair. Successful applicants can leave the event with a solid job offer, though hiring is contingent on background and reference checks, along with a successful drug screening.

Taylor encourages people to apply even if they are unsure their background check will pass muster. Be open about concerns during the interview, she said, and be assured that each incident will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

After an open interview event held earlier this summer, JFS interviewed 22 people, and eight of them started employment at JFS July 11, Taylor said. The agency is in the process of finalizing paperwork on those applicants who accepted employment, Jeffries said.

For complete job listings, including job descriptions, visit the county’s jobs page and scroll to Eligibility Specialist and Social Service Worker 3. From there, it is possible to apply online.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.