Ohio House votes to expand foster care assistance, effort led in part by Marion representative

Rep. Dorothy Pelanda (R-Marysville)

Rep. Dorothy Pelanda (R-Marysville)

During Tuesday’s session, the Ohio House of Representatives approved legislation that increases the age for which persons are eligible to receive foster care and adoption assistance, as well as addresses issues associated with caring for the more than 67,000 juvenile and elderly Ohioans subject to guardianship in the state.

After having passed the House Community and Family Advancement Committee and Finance Committee earlier this year, the House voted nearly unanimously in favor of the measure. House Bill 50 requires the Director of the Department of Job and Family Services to expand payments for foster care and adoption to qualifying persons up to the age of 21.

According to Ohio Fostering Connections, an organization that advocates for foster youth, more than 1,000 Ohio youth age out of foster care at the age of 18 each year, putting them at increased risk of homelessness, unemployment, insufficient education, dependence on public assistance and human trafficking.

Additionally, HB 50 requires the probate court to furnish appointed guardians with a guardianship guide, which is to be written by either the Attorney General or the Ohio Judicial Conference.

“HB 50 provides assistance to those who cannot speak or advocate for themselves,” said Rep. Dorothy Pelanda (R-Marysville), who sponsored the bill along with Rep. Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City). “Every family will eventually have some experience with a guardianship, as people are living longer and need assistance. More and more children are entering the foster-care system each day, as the drug epidemic renders parents incapable of raising their children. We need to do everything in our power to provide all children the tools they need to lead productive lives.”

“This bill will provide much needed guidance and oversight for guardianships,” Grossman said. “Additionally the number of youth aging out of foster care at age 18 need this extra time to be prepared for what their future holds.”

HB 50 states that the expansion of foster care services must be funded by July 1, 2017. It now awaits consideration in the Ohio Senate.

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