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Governor DeWine Announces Programs to Prevent Custody Relinquishment, Modernize Systems of Care for Multi-System Youth

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today announced that the Ohio Departments of Medicaid and Job and Family Services will issue $31 million in new funding to support youth and families served by multiple systems. In addition to providing direct support to children and families, these funds will also help to modernize Ohio’s 88 county Family and Children First Councils, which coordinate care for children served by multiple systems.

“Too many Ohio families lack access to the care that their children need to be happy and healthy. For some families, this results in parents making the unfathomable choice to relinquish custody of their child to help them get the care they need,” said Governor DeWine. “This is a tragedy, and we are taking bold steps to address these situations. Over the next two years, we will invest $68 million to prevent custody relinquishment, fund services for some of Ohio’s most in-need children, and begin to modernize the way we care for youth who require support from multiple systems.”

In state fiscal year 2020, the administration will provide $31 million to implement new programs to address the unmet needs of youth served through multiple social services systems, including those at risk of being relinquished and those who have already been taken into children’s services custody.

First, the Ohio Departments of Medicaid and Job and Family Services have jointly developed a state-level program to provide financial support to youth and families with complex needs who may be at risk of custody relinquishment or have already been relinquished to the foster care system. Beginning October 9, 2019, families, through their county Ohio Family and Children First Council, can apply for direct financial aid to cover costs associated with their child’s care. A total of $8 million has been made available to support families in need.

Second, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services will provide $20 million to county public children’s services agencies (PCSAs) to assist with costs for children who require support from multiple systems and have been relinquished or are at risk for relinquishment. Following rulemaking, funds will be released early in calendar year 2020.

Finally, Ohio Family and Children First will immediately begin working with stakeholders to develop an action plan to reduce custody relinquishment and better serve Ohio’s children with the most complex needs. The Multi-System Youth Action Plan Committee will evaluate the existing Family and Children First Cabinet infrastructure, current practices across the state, and service needs. Based on this evaluation and action plan, funds will be made available for both sustainability efforts and technical assistance.

“We look forward to working with families and communities to improve outcomes for our most in-need young people. These funds will not only help families this year, but they will also help transform the systems that care for these youth,” said Governor DeWine.

Ohio Family and Children First will gather feedback and develop best practices over the next few months, then make improvements to the state program to better serve Ohio’s children and families as allocations are made for $37 million in funding set aside for state fiscal year 2021.