Mission Accomplished: Foster Care to 21
HB 50 Passed by Legislature
We did it! On May 25, 2016, the Ohio Senate passed HB 50 unanimously, with a vote of 33-0. Governor Kasich is expected to sign the bill into law within 10 days.
Thank you for your support and advocacy. Together, we made a difference.
The new law will establish a statewide program to serve youth who age out of foster care through their 21st birthday.
The Ohio Fostering Connections (OFC) officially launched in January of 2014. We worked for two and a half years to encourage the Legislature to extend supports for foster youth. Finally, our hard work has paid off. Some of Ohio’s most vulnerable young people can now celebrate the prospects of a brighter future.
We applaud Representatives Dorothy Pelanda and Cheryl Grossman and Senator John Eklund for sponsoring this important legislation and advocating for its passage.
We are planning a special way to thank and honor the state legislators and our partners who contributed their time and energy to this noble cause. Stay tuned.
Officially, the bill will become a state law – the Ohio Fostering Connections Act – around July 1. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) will receive an appropriation of $550,000 on that date to fund their year-long implementation planning efforts. At some point in the near future, ODJFS will also convene a stakeholder group to provide feedback.
The OFC Task Force formed small workgroups to develop best practice recommendations to ODJFS to help them kick off their planning process. Brandi Slaughter from Voices for Ohio’s Children is organizing those workgroups. The workgroups plan to conclude by the end of the summer.
Implementation of the extended supports to foster youth will occur in about 18 months (around December 2017 or January 2018). Funding for implementation of the program would be appropriated in the next biennial budget legislation (SFY 18-19) since the program wouldn’t actually “go live” until then.
The OFC Task Force decided to organize a statewide symposium this fall in Columbus to help community agencies design effective programs to serve the 3,000 eligible foster youth and alumni. Please save the date for October 11, 2016.
While we have achieved our legislative goal, our next goal is just as important. We must ensure Ohio builds an effective, accountable, and attractive program for the 18-21 year-old foster care alumni.
As foster alum Michael Outrich testified earlier this month, “I don’t want to be just one statistic that has made it. I want the State of Ohio to create opportunities that pave the way for thousands of others to succeed.”
Now is our chance to help our State design a program that creates these opportunities. We hope you will stay active with the campaign as we enter the next chapter.