DeWine proposes increased funding to aid youths affected by opioid crisis

Tom Corrigan - [email protected]

Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday recommended a $74 million annual increase for Family and Children Services in the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services for the upcoming 2020-2021 budget biennium.

“For too long our state has been last in the nation for state support of foster care. As budgets are strained by an influx of children needing care because one or more of their parents has substance use disorder, our foster care system is at a critical juncture. Ohio’s children deserve better,” DeWine said.

“This budget is an investment in our children. Not only are we expanding proven programs, but we are providing the resources and flexibility to local children services agencies so they can focus more on caring for children.”

Announced at a meeting of the Public Children Services Association of Ohio, this recommendation includes $90 million a year in funding to counties for the State Child Protective Allocation, the allocation funding public children services organizations.

Although a final draft of their initial recommendations was not yet ready, Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware recently told the Daily Times the governor’s RecoveryOhio Advisory Council, on which Ware is one of two southern Ohio representatives, hoped to prioritize strengthening the state’s support for children’s services and foster care systems. Ware noted such organizations are “extremely overburdened here in Scioto County,” but quickly added that is the case pretty much throughout Ohio.

At one of their recent meetings, the Scioto County Board of Commissioners spent a good bit of time discussing what was called an “acute” need for foster parents in the area due to the number of addicted parents losing custody of their children. Commissioner Cathy Coleman talked about an effort a while back to launch a local children’s home targeting juveniles belonging to parents suffering from substance abuse problems. She said the effort won some support but was placed on the back burner due to financial concerns.

“It’s a very big problem,” Coleman said of the addiction issue as a whole. “It’s just hard to wrap your brain around it.”

DeWine’s biennium budget recommendation adds state resources to support county-level initiatives including $25 million in each fiscal year for Family and Children First Councils to coordinate care for multi-system youth.

According to DeWine’s office, these young people often have intensive needs because of their life experiences and require services from other state departments.

The budget also expands initiatives DeWine launched when he was Ohio Attorney General, including nearly $4.5 million to bring Ohio START, a program aimed at serving children whose parents have substance use disorder, to an additional 15 counties, and expand 30 Days to Family, a kinship locator service helping place children entering foster care with a family member.

The governor’s office stated additional details will be released when DeWine submits his operating budget to the General Assembly for consideration March 15. The new state fiscal year begins July 1.

Tom Corrigan

[email protected]