WARREN - Amid controversy and weeks of speculation, the Trumbull County Children Services Board hired a new executive director Tuesday night during its regular monthly meeting.
Valley Counseling Services Executive Director Timothy Schaffner was hired.
The board accepted the resignation of Nick Kerosky effective today.
"I'm honored to be here with friends that I've worked with for 37 years at other agencies," Schaffner said. "I know there is a ton of strengths here and important partnerships with the community and other agencies. I hope that I can move forward and take really good care of kids and families."
Schaffner, 59, will gradually phase out of his role at VCS before going full-time at CSB.
"I need another week of sharing work between here and there,'' he said. ''I will work as many hours as it takes. I have to be a responsible caretaker of a couple of different agencies."
Schaffner's contract with CSB is for one year with an annual pay of $95,000.
Kerosky served as executive director for 18 months. He did not attend Tuesday's board meeting and a message left on his cell phone after the meeting was not returned.
No reason was given for the unanimous vote for a separation agreement. It followed months of controversy at the agency, including the rape of a toddler during a supervised visit at the facility, a lawsuit over meeting access, and the resignation of an employee who threatened a local attorney.
A week ago, an expanded investigation involving the rape resulted in a corrective plan released by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Kerosky last week said a corrective plan the local agency already instituted addressed most of the issues in the new report and already had been approved by the state agency.
''New guidelines and procedures have already been put into practice," he wrote in a response to the report.
Schaffner said that while he hasn't been directly involved in the investigative process, he believes that things are being conducted in a timely manner.
"In health care, when there is a bad outcome, you do a root cause analysis and you look at all of the dynamics that are involved in the situation," Schaffner said. "You bring in outside experts, look at your systems and processes, where you can improve and prevent things from happening and you do it transparently.
''My boots are not on the ground yet, so I can't say for sure that is what has happened here. But, it sounds to me like that is what is being done.
Schaffner said he brings with him 37 years of experience in professional child care. He began his career in Northfield at Sagamore Hills Children's Psychiatric Hospital as a child care worker and later as a program director.
In 1987, Schaffner was hired by Tod Children's Hospital in Youngstown as director of youth services and eventually was named executive director of behavioral medicine for Forum Health's Trumbull, Northside and Tod locations. He remained in that position until 2006, when he was made executive director at VCS.
"Over the years, we've shared kids and families (with CSB). When I was at the state hospital, we would work with some of the same kids," Schaffner said. "When I was at Tod Children's Hospital, we worked with a lot of the same kids and with Valley Counseling. We partner with Trumbull County Children Services and we have staff on this campus all the time."
The Diamond resident explained that a wide ranging partnership must develop in order to gain the trust of the community.
"You do an investigation with transparency and at the end of the day, the community has to have confidence in the people that take care of kids and families," Schaffner said. "I do and that's why I'm here."