Child protection leaders applaud legislative efforts to address youth needs
COLUMBUS – Today the Joint Legislative Committee on Multi-System Youth released its recommendations to address the needs of Ohio’s multi-system youth and their families. Started in January, the Committee co-chaired by Senator Gardner and Representative LaTourette held hearings with testimony from youth, families, program experts, and state officials.
Multi-system youth are at risk of entering the child protective services or juvenile justice systems due to their unmet mental health or developmental disability needs. As the Committee heard, in too many cases, Ohio parents face the difficult decision to relinquish custody rights of their own child to children services in order to gain access to needed treatment services.
“The driving reason we pushed for the Joint Legislative Committee to be established is that too many children come into the custody of the child protective services system not because they are abused or neglected, but because their parents have nowhere else to turn to get treatment services,” explained Angela Sausser, Executive Director, Public Children Services Association of Ohio (PCSAO). “In fact, while abuse and neglect represent the greatest number of reports we receive, the majority (60%) of children in our custody are there for reasons other than abuse and neglect. No parents should have to give up custody of their child solely to get the help they need.”
The Committee’s recommendations include establishing state-level safety net funding to offset the cost of care not covered by insurance, ensuring families have access to a proven model of coordinating care called High Fidelity Wraparound, providing peer support to youth and families, modernizing the county Family and Children First Councils, and commissioning a study to address the challenges of accessing appropriate residential care when needed in Ohio.
“These recommendations are an action plan that will change lives and even save lives,” said Senator Gardner after the Joint Legislative Committee accepted the report and recommendations on multi-system youth.
“We applaud the Joint Legislative Committee for their leadership, willingness to listen to youth, families, and stakeholders, and creating a plan that is achievable and will reduce the need for custody relinquishment,” Sausser said. “PCSAO stands ready to work in partnership with the legislature to carry out this action plan for Ohio’s multi-system youth.”