(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today announced the formation of the Children Services Transformation Advisory Council aimed at reviewing the state of Ohio’s foster care system and developing recommendations for improving the experience of children and families. The advisory council was created to build on the historic investments included in the State Operating Budget providing more opportunities for families and children.
The Children Services Transformation Advisory Council will be tasked with:
- Travelling the state to better understand local barriers and best practices.
- Promoting a shared state and county vision for agency purpose and practice.
- Reviewing data, trends, and policies regarding the current foster care system.
- Providing recommendations and strategies to strengthen all areas of the system, including kinship care, foster care, adoption, workforce, and prevention.
“I’ve spent my career advocating for children and families that are touched by the children services system,” Governor Mike DeWine said. “By learning from those who have personally experienced the system, we can work together to make Ohio a state that works for all families.”
In order to better understand local challenges, the group will host regional listening forums across the state. Regional forums will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the following dates and locations. Anyone interested in providing testimony should submit a written request at https://governor.ohio.gov/fostercareforums.
- Southeast Region – Nov. 13 − Athens Community Center, Athens
- Western Region − Nov. 18 − Auglaize County Educational Service Center, Wapakoneta
- Central Region – Nov. 21 − Central Ohio Technical College, Pataskala Campus
- Northwest Region − Dec. 9 − Wood County Department of Job and Family Services, Children Services/Visitor Entrance, Bowling Green
- Northern Region − Dec. 11 − Medina County University Center (University of Akron), Medina
- Southwest Region − Dec. 17 − Lebanon Conference and Banquet Center, Lebanon
- Northeast Region − Dec. 19 − United Way of Greater Stark County, Canton
The Children Services Transformation Advisory Council includes a wide range of families, youth, and subject matter experts from across the state. The following individuals will serve on the Children Services Transformation Advisory Council:
- LeeAnne Cornyn, Director, Governor’s Office of Children’s Initiatives
- Kristi Burre, Director, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Office of Children Services Transformation
- Melinda Haggerty, Foster Alum
- Arlene Jones, Foster Alum
- Jeff and Rhonda Mays, Biological Parents
- David and Angela Earley, Kinship Caregivers
- Eric and Teri DeVoe, Foster Parents
- Staci and Damon Morris, Adoptive Parents
- Juliana Barton, Foster Alum and Advocate/Action Ohio & Scholar Network at Columbus State Community College
- Sherry Bouquet, Executive Director, Fostering Family Ministries
- Chip Bonsutto, Executive Director, Ohio MENTOR
- Sam Shafer, Chief Transformation Officer, Integrated Services for Behavioral Health
- Anthony Capizzi, Judge, Montgomery County Juvenile Court
- Michael Wehrkamp, Judge, Paulding County Juvenile Court
- Elizabeth Merringer, Caseworker, Fairfield County Job and Family Services
- Robin Reese, Director, Lucas County Children Services
- Nicole Caldwell, Director, Guernsey County Children Services
Starting in November, the advisory council will meet monthly and will issue their recommendation no later than April of 2020. Meetings of the advisory council will be open to the public. For more information on the regional foster care forums, please visit https://governor.ohio.gov/fostercareforums.