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PCSAO launches bold reform plan with stakeholder support

PCSAO launches bold reform plan with stakeholder support

More than 50 stakeholders, including representatives from state agencies, fellow associations, children’s hospitals, and think tanks, came together in Columbus yesterday to learn about PCSAO’s Children’s Continuum of Care Reform Plan.

Each of the four broad strategy areas in PCSAO’s Children’s Continuum of Care Reform Plan was reviewed during the meeting, led by Tim Schaffner, director of Trumbull County Children Services; Pam Meermans, deputy director of Clark County Job and Family Services; Kristi Burre, director of protective services at Fairfield County Job and Family Services; and PCSAO staff.

The reform effort, which started as a deep dive into data regarding residential care for foster youth, quickly broadened into an ambitious campaign to redesign the entire continuum within the foster care system, from developing new prevention and diversion services and modernizing foster care services including residential treatment, to ensuring sustained permanency for youth with reunification and after-care services. “We cannot afford to continue doing business as usual in children services, with more children coming into care with more complex trauma and expensive placement costs,” said PCSAO Executive Director Angela Sausser. “The need for reform is urgent if we are to achieve better outcomes for Ohio’s children and families, and prevent county agency budgets from exploding.”

While the reform plan was originally unveiled last month as part of PCSAO’s policy solutions paper for gubernatorial candidates, Foster Hope for Ohio’s Children, yesterday’s launch was the first opportunity for stakeholders to learn about the plan, ask questions, and suggest improvements. Organizations are also being asked to endorse the plan and consider lending their expertise as part of an advisory committee.

Supporting organizations are encouraged to use the social media hashtag #FosterHope4OHKids.

Implementation of the plan, which was conceived before passage in February of the Family First Prevention Services Act, will be both aided and challenged by the new law.