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Senate budget restores assistance for kin

As the state budget makes its way toward a June 30 deadline for passage, the Senate Finance Committee today unveiled a substitute bill that continues to prioritize child safety and permanency.

A $15 million federal TANF set-aside for the kinship caregiver program has been restored, according to Angela Sausser, executive director of Public Children Services Association of Ohio. “We are grateful to Majority Whip Jay Hottinger (R-31, pictured), Chairman Matt Dolan (R-24), Ranking Member Vernon Sykes (D-28) and their fellow committee members for recognizing the critical role that kinship caregivers play by continuing this program designed to provide support when kinship caregivers open their homes to care for kin children,” Sausser said. “The Senate understands that grandparents, relatives and other family friends step up every day to care for children when parents cannot.”

In addition to direct support for kinship caregivers, the budget restores language to a $3.5 million state investment that will draw down another $3.5 million in federal funding for a statewide kinship navigator program. “Caregivers have a range of supports available to them in Ohio, but many are unaware of the benefits to which they are entitled,” Sausser said. “The navigator program will be a resource that points them in the right direction.

“We cannot express enough our appreciation to the Senate, the House and Governor DeWine for prioritizing child safety, permanency and wellbeing in this budget,” Sausser continued. “We encourage the full Senate and the Conference Committee to protect these targeted and crucial investments that will help county children services agencies achieve better outcomes for children and families.”