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Legislators meet to problem-solve multi-system youth needs

Legislators meet to problem-solve multi-system youth needs

A joint legislative committee on children requiring a range of interventions met Tuesday to take testimony. The Joint Legislative Committee on Multi-System Youth, created in the Biennial Budget, was a key priority for PCSAO, leading the association to collect data on this population and publish a new policy brief on the subject.

The committee’s purpose is to improve outcomes for children and youth whose needs cross multiple systems, including child protection, mental health, addiction, developmental disabilities and juvenile delinquency.

The committee elected Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green, pictured) chair and Rep. Sarah LaTourette (R-Bainbridge) vice-chair. Other members of the committee include Sens. Mike Skindell (D-Lakewood), Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) and Kris Jordan (R-Powell) and Reps. Dorothy Pelanda (R-Marysville), Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati), Jeffrey Rezabek (R-Dayton) and Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Hts.).

A major issue to be addressed is “custody relinquishment,” in which a family is forced to give up their child to public children services due to lack of resources to address what are usually serious mental health treatment needs. In most cases, a family’s private insurance has been exhausted for mental health treatment. The family may have taken out a second mortgage on their home; sold a second car, even though both are working to help pay for their child’s treatment; depleted savings accounts and in some cases their retirement; and even file for bankruptcy.

Written testimony submitted by PCSAO Executive Director Angela Sausser expanded on those concerns. “The result is that these children, who may have no history of abuse or neglect but who have a need for intense services, end up in a system designed to focus on child safety and protection,” Sausser said, urging members to coordinate with the OHT system redesign process.