COLUMBUS—A bill, Co-Sponsored by State Representative Tim Brown, passed the Ohio House of Representatives Tuesday by a vote of 91-2. The bi-partisan legislation increases the age for which persons are eligible to receive foster care and adoption assistance. The bill additionally addresses issues associated with caring for the more than 67,000 juvenile and elderly Ohioans subject to guardianship in Ohio.
After having passed the House Community and Family Advancement Committee and Finance Committee earlier this year, the House voted today 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, so long as certain employment and education requirements are being met.
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. The guidelines shall establish a baseline of care conduct aimed at reducing abuse of juveniles, or elderly individuals, who are subject to guardianship.
“Ensuring the safety of our youth and elderly is a primary focus of this legislation. We hope to ensure better standards of care, and provide some additional time for foster care individuals to meet their education and employment goals.” said Representative Brown.
HB 50 states that the expansion of foster care services must be funded by July 1, 2017. The bill now awaits consideration in the Ohio Senate.