Expanded foster care assistance, guardianship laws reform approved by Ohio lawmakers

Dorothy Pelanda

Dorothy Pelanda

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

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. Should ODJFS decide to terminate foster care or adoption assistance payments, a state hearing by their department would be required.

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 and requires that subsequent versions of the guide include the rights of the ward as stated in any relevant provision of the Ohio Revised Code.

“HB 50 is the product of the legislature coming together to recognize the needs of our foster care youth and those wards subject to guardianships in Ohio,” Pelanda stated. “I commend my colleagues in the House and Senate for their overwhelming and bipartisan support of the bill.”

“I am grateful that this bill will be enacted to protect and support some of our most vulnerable citizens. It is appropriate and needed to extend to age 21 assistance for this population,” said Grossman. “Additionally, providing guardianship guidelines to guardians will clearly communicate the rights and responsibilities of this important population.”

HB 50 now awaits consideration by the governor.

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