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Ohio’s Opioid Epidemic and Need For Foster Parents

“There is a growing chasm between the number of available foster families and the increasing number of children who enter the child welfare system because one or both of their parents are drug addicts…Today I want to issue a call to Ohioans who may be interested in being a foster parent. I ask them to make that leap and open their home to a kid or kids who could use a stable, loving home.”

–Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine

On August 24th 2017, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine held a press conference to talk about the growing need for foster families in Ohio and new initiatives aimed at attracting individuals to become licensed foster parents.  Ohio has been one of the hardest hit by the recent Opioid epidemic; having the nation’s highest rate of deadly heroin overdoses and the child welfare system is feeling it. According to Franklin County Children Services, there are 3,000 more children in the child welfare system than there were seven years ago when the opioid crisis began. Currently in Ohio there are more than 15,000 kids in the child welfare system, but only 7,200 foster families taking them in.  Families are needed for all age children and they are needed now!

New initiatives have been put into place in hopes more Ohioans will open their homes. These include:

1.)A new foster home recruitment website . This website includes information on the requirements for becoming foster parents and a directory of private foster care agencies in Ohio where individuals can become licensed.

2.)A 1 million dollar grant that was awarded to the Waiting Children Fund to implement kinship family and foster family recruitment in ten Ohio counties.

3.)Required BCII background checks being expedited to a 24 hour turnaround time for foster parent applicants.


Are you able to meet Ohio’s growing need and take a child or children into your home? If you are interested in becoming a foster parent you can contact us at: kbanks@umchohio.org or 614-559-2800.

Want to learn more? Listen to the press conference in full here.


Why I Foster

May is National Foster Care Month. To celebrate this month, we have asked some of our amazing Foster Parents why they chose to provide foster care. Here are their responses:

” We had more love to share and wanted to have more kids in our home so we made the decision to become a foster family. It has been a challenging and rewarding experience so far and we are enjoying working as a team to love and care for our foster children.” – Joe and Alicia Manning, Foster Parents for 1.5 years


“We have extra love to share and want to be a safe and supportive environment for kids to land for a short or long time.”  -Josh and Lindsay Meyer, Foster Parents for 1 month


” We seek to bring boys into a loving, encouraging, positive home where they will be loved, challenged and guided to prepare for a positive life ahead of them. God directs our steps as we take care of his own.” -Charlie and Delois Yates, Foster Parents for 14 years.


“We foster to help children. We have a lot of love to give! Our overall goal is to adopt and add to our family, but until those placements come to our home, we are going to bless as many kids as we can.” -Terry and Bonnie Madden, Foster Parents for 1 year


“We foster because we love kids! We want to help hurting kids by providing them love and stability. We also want to help them by showing the love of Christ. We also would like to expand our family.” -Jeff and Dianna Lambert, Foster Parents for 3.5 years


” I foster to be a helping hand and to provide a safe home for children. I consider myself a modern day Harriet Tubman. I make a commitment to keep the children until they can go back home or to an adoptive home. There were many people that help and guided me along the way when my mother died when I was 5 years old. I now try to be a blessing to someone else.” – Patricia Robinson, Foster Parent for 19 years


” We love children and being able to share our home and lives with them. So many children are in need and this is a way we can be involved. It has been a journey, some ups and some downs, but always worth it!” -Dale and Lori Van Valkenburg, Foster Parents for 3 years


” We have been so blessed by our own families that we want to give that love to other kids in the world. We want to give to the community in which we live and this is a great need in our community. We are loved so we seek to love in return. God told us to love those in need and we have a responsibility to use what has been given to us to meet those needs.” – Matt and Krista Creeger, Foster Parents for 3 months


“We foster to help kids that often come from a world of experiences that are difficult to comprehend. We foster to give kids the chance to heal, grow and move forward towards their dreams.” -Dan and Mary Headapohl, Foster Parents for 9 years


We appreciate our foster families sharing with us why they chose to foster and hope that many of you will choose to foster too! There is a large need for foster homes in our community, especially for older children and sibling groups. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, please call 614-559-2800 or email kbanks@umchohio.org.

Please feel free to comment below and share on your social media pages why you have chosen to foster as well! Use the hashtag: #WhyIFoster.

House Bill 50: The Fostering Connections Act-Update

You may have read our last post,House Bill 50: The Fostering Connections Act . If you did, you know that this bill will expand foster care services to the age of 21 in Ohio, if not check it out! This bill has excited a lot of youth, parents and staff working to emancipate children successfully from Ohio’s foster care program. So what has happened since the bill passed? We wanted to let you know!

The Foster to 21 Program has officially been given a name and is now known as, Bridges. It was given this name to best convey what it actually will be: a voluntary “bridge” from foster care to independence. Youth who age out of foster care will be able to request housing or other supportive services at any time between their 18th and 21st birthdays.

An advisory committee was put together by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services back in October and has been meeting regularly to discuss how to build the Bridges program and implement it effectively. They have been tackling tough issues surrounding the program’s infrastructure and policies such as how youth will smoothly transition from foster care to Bridges, identifying Ohio Administrative Code rules that may be affected by the program, as well as new rules that may be necessary to support the program, and how to effectively market this program so youth will want to take part in it.

There is still much to figure out, but we do know that in order for foster youth to be eligible for the Bridges Program they will have to meet one of the following criteria:

  • Completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential.
  • Enrollment in an institution that provides post-secondary or vocational education.
  • Employed for at least 80 hours per month.
  • Incapable of doing any of the above activities due to a medical condition, and incapacity is supported by regular documentation from a medical professional.
  • Participating in a program or activity that is designed to remove barriers to employment.

We also know that youth enrolled in the program may be in a variety of supervised living situations, including:

  • Apartment living
  • Room & board arrangements
  • College or university dormitories
  • Host homes
  • Shared roommate settings

The Advisory Board will continue to work along with The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services to build the Bridges Program and support one of our most vulnerable populations; youth emancipating form the foster care system. Right now, the program is set to be implemented on December 11th, 2017.

What do you all think of this new program? Share your comments below and be sure to check in for more updates as information is released regarding this impactful change on our system!


Managed Care for Foster and Adoptive Youth

You may or may not know that coming soon, on January 1st, 2017; all of Ohio’s Foster and Adoptive youth will need to be on a Managed Care Plan. This is different than the current Medicaid plans that many of them are currently on. So what does this mean exactly?

Managed Care Plans are run by health insurance companies that are contracted by the Ohio Department of Medicaid to manage health care and benefits provided to the Medicaid population. There are currently five companies one can choose to work with:






For foster youth, the child’s custodial agency will be the one to choose the plan the child will be on. The custodial agency can switch the foster youth to another plan at any time should they need to. Although foster parents will not be the one to make the decision on the plan they will need to make sure that the providers they work with (doctors, dentists, therapists, etc.) are covered by the chosen company. Instead of the monthly Medicaid cards many families are used to, youth will receive one insurance card that can be used throughout the year.

For adoptive youth who are enrolled on Medicaid currently, the child’s parents will need to choose a plan for their child. All adoptive families will be receiving notification in early November regarding this change and choosing a plan for their child. Once notified, they will then have eighteen days to select a plan and enroll. If a family does not make a selection within the allotted timeframe, a plan will automatically be selected for them based on their child’s current needs and services. Unlike foster youth, adoptive youth will not be able to switch plans at any time. Initially, families will be able to switch plans after 90 days and then annually thereafter. Just like with foster families, adoptive families will need to make sure their child’s services and the providers they use are covered by their chosen plan.

If you want more information on this change, checkout the Ohio Department of Medicaid’s presentation by clicking here.

If you are a family wanting assistance in choosing a plan for your child or you want to enroll in a plan, you can do so by calling 1-800-324-8680 or going to: http://ohiomh.com.



House Bill 50: The Fostering Connections Act

Think about it; you just turned 18 and are on the brink of adulthood. The world is your oyster and you now have to figure out what to do as you end your high school career and move on. Now think about having to figure this out without the support of a family or mentor in your life. What would you do if you left home at 18 with nowhere to call home or no one to fall back on? Each year more than 1,000 Ohio youth age out of the foster care system when they turn 18. For many, this means the end of many supports that the foster care system offers including financial, educational, familial and social. According to a report by Ohio Fostering Connections, by the time foster youth had turned 19 years old the following statistics applied:

* 14% had a child

*24% worked part time; 12% worked full time

*26% experienced homelessness

*36% experienced incarceration

*53% had not completed high school or received a GED

The good news is Ohio is trying to change these statistics by recently passing House Bill 50. This bill will expand services to foster youth until the age of 21. It will also expand services to those youth adopted after age 16, through their 21st birthdays. The passing of this bill in Ohio comes after similar programs have been started in 26 states nationwide. According to Fostering Connections, these states have seen an increase in education and employment and lower levels of incarceration and homelessness among foster youth. House Bill 50 does not simply mean that children will continue to stay in foster homes until the age of 21; instead it brings an array of services including independent housing, and college and career preparation that foster youth can voluntarily participate in.

Officially, the bill will become a state law, The Ohio Fostering Connections Act on July 1, 2016. From there, The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services along with the Ohio Fostering Connections task force will take the next eighteen months to fully design and implement the specific services for emancipating youth. UMCH is proud to be a part of this monumental change and will work along with ODJFS in providing support to emancipating youth. Please stay tuned to see how this implementation will change Ohio’s foster care system and strengthen our support to one of our most vulnerable populations- youth aging out of the system.



The Homestudy Process: What to Expect

You have made the exciting decision that you want to foster or adopt, now what? You may have heard that to become an approved foster or adoptive parent you have to go through the “homestudy process,” but what does this mean? For many prospective foster/adoptive parents this can cause some anxiety, but it doesn’t have to! Let’s walk through the process so that you can get an idea of what will be asked of you and your family.

A homestudy will be completed after you start the Pre-Service training (36 hours of training) and fill out an application to foster/adopt. The homestudy is a written document that a certified adoption assessor writes about your family and includes basic information drawn from interviews with your family and some information provided by third parties.

The home study process can take between three to six months to complete and you and your family will have several visits with your adoption assessor. It may seem invasive or lengthy, however, just remember more often than not, agencies are looking for ways to rule families in rather than rule them out. The home study is simply conducted to help you, and your agency, decide if adoption or foster care is right for you, and the type of child who will be the best match for your family.

So what is discussed during the homestudy process? Here are some examples of topics that are covered during the interview with your assessor:

  • Relationship- If you are married or in a relationship questions will be asked about your relationship with your significant other. If you are single, questions will be asked about your dating life and previous relationships you may have had.
  • Religious affiliation/ Spiritual Beliefs
  • Family Finances- No, you don’t have to be rich to foster or adopt! We are simply looking that you can manage your finances responsibly and adequately and can sustain your household without a foster care per diem or adoption subsidy.
  • Attitudes and Beliefs Regarding Foster Care/Adoption Issues
  • Personal History
  • Personal/Emotional Maturity, Stress Management, Interpersonal relationships, Openness in relationships, Ability to empathize, Motivation to foster/adopt, Understanding of Entitlement Issues, Ability to honor commitments, Parenting Skills and your Support System.
  • If you have children or other adults living in your home, they will also be interviewed during the homestudy process

Along with the interview, the assessor will complete a “Safety Audit” of your home. They will need to view all areas of the house or apartment, including where the children will sleep, the basement, and the backyard. The assessor is looking that your home is a safe environment for children. A certain level of order is necessary, but some family clutter is expected! Remember that cleaning materials should be stored high up or with child safety locks, a fire extinguisher should be in the cooking area of your home, medication needs to be locked and emergency numbers and an evacuation plan need to be posted.

After the assessor is completed with the interviews and walk through (usually after 2-4 visits) they will write their assessment into the homestudy document and your family will be approved for foster care and/or adoption. Remember, that along with the interviews you also must complete a slew of paperwork and background checks for the agency so the interviews are not the only piece of the approval process.

The homestudy process may seem long or invasive, but remember that it is truly about learning! A time for you to learn more about the agency, foster care and adoption and a time for the agency to learn more about your family. It is also about deciding whether foster care and adoption are right for your family and the type of child that will fit best in your home.

Childwelfare.gov stated the following about the homestudy process and I think this rings true, “Flexibility and a sense of humor are vital characteristics when raising children, and they can be useful during the home study process as well. With perseverance and a positive outlook, you will be able to team with the social worker to make this a valuable learning experience—one that will help you do the best possible job in parenting the child who will eventually join your family.”

If you would like more information on the homestudy process, check out this fact sheet put together by Childwelfare.gov. and remember you can always call us with your questions; we would love to hear from you and are always looking for prospective foster/adoptive families!

Fact Sheet: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/f_homstu.pdf