“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: firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-559-2800.
Want to learn more? Listen to the press conference in full here.
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!