AP NEWS

Official: Investment could save foster care

March 9, 2019

IRONTON — A proposed $74 million to protect Ohio’s abused and neglected children represents an unprecedented 95 percent increase in state funding, according to Lawrence County Department of Job and Family Service Director Terry Porter.

Gov. Mike DeWine is recommending an increase for Family and Children Services Budget in Ohio starting July 1.

State funding for foster care has been virtually flat since 2010, Porter said.

“This proposed investment is desperately needed in Lawrence County,” he said.

The county agency averages $125,500 per month since last October, and currently has custody of 63 children.

It isn’t yet known how much the increase would mean for Lawrence County since the money would be divided among 88 counties and is based on the number of children in foster care, Porter said Friday.

“It would be a substantial increase and help us better serve our children,” Porter said.

“Gov. DeWine is standing up for the vulnerable children and families of Lawrence County,” Porter said. “This investment will help us address the crisis in our children services system by providing funding for the rising placement costs.”

“For too long our state has been last in the nation for state support of foster care,” DeWine said. “As budgets are strained by an influx of children needing care because one or more of their parents has substance use disorder, our foster care system is at a critical juncture. Ohio’s children deserve better.

“This budget is an investment in our children,” DeWine said. “Not only are we expanding proven programs, but we are providing the resources and flexibility to local children services agencies so they can focus more on caring for children.”

DeWine’s proposal could save a foster care system in crisis, Porter said. The cost of residential care can run about $225 per day and Lawrence County has 10 children in residential care, Porter said.

“These programs will alleviate the pressure on our county agency budget,” Porter said.

The agency has been struggling with increasing costs, he said.