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Foster Hope for Ohio's Children: PCSAO issues policy solutions for gubernatorial candidates

Foster Hope for Ohio's Children: PCSAO issues policy solutions for gubernatorial candidates

PCSAO has released a set of policy solutions to give candidates running for governor an overview of the challenges facing county children services agencies – along with recommendations for addressing them.

Foster Hope for Ohio’s Children highlights policy solutions for Ohio’s children services system in crisis from decades of reduced investment combined with more regulations and requirements, said Executive Director Angela Sausser. “County children services agencies across Ohio share the same values of getting better outcomes for children and families,” she said. “But the state’s disinvestment in children services, combined with a devastating opioid epidemic, has resulted in significant barriers to achieving these outcomes.”

The opioid epidemic has had a profound impact on a system already in crisis – with Ohio last in the nation for state share of children services spending. It has resulted in more children in foster care, more complex needs, more kinship families in need, a more overburdened workforce and more expensive costs. With the number of children in custody increasing by a third and placement costs for children rising by two-thirds, Sausser predicts more than 20,000 children in foster care on any given day by 2020 and more than half a billion dollars spent just on placement costs, if current trends continue. “Our policy solutions call for statewide reforms that include creating a robust foster care system, increasing community services to keep families intact, providing more support for kinship caregivers, and preserving essential federal funding streams while increasing state investment,” she said.

Recent changes in federal law offer a unique opportunity for aligning federal, state and local investments to promote best practices, support the child protection workforce, address gaps in services – and even reduce costs over the long term. “By keeping families together, offering a more professionalized and treatment-focused foster care model and reducing reliance on residential care, Ohio can save money and achieve better outcomes for children and families,” Sausser said.