(Ohio) – Officials say new investments will help county agencies recover from decades of struggle.
County children services agencies will get a much-needed hundred-million-dollar boost from the state budget following final passage and signature by the Governor, and the relief could not come any sooner.
The association of county children services agencies expressed sincere gratitude to the Governor and the General Assembly for prioritizing child safety and family stability in the budget. “This represents the single biggest investment in child and family services ever made by the State of Ohio,” said Angela Sausser, executive director of Public Children Services Association of Ohio. “This is welcome relief to every county in the state. For too long, children services agencies have struggled with more children coming into foster care, staying longer, and requiring more treatment and services, pushing our system to the brink.”
Sausser suggested that new state funding – which includes targeted dollars for promising efforts like the Governor’s signature children services-led opioid-response program Ohio START and a new federally matched kinship navigator program – will help agencies begin to turn the corner on years of managing in crisis. “Now is a time to rebuild,” Sausser said. “Rebuild our workforce, rebuild our capacity and begin to rebuild families devastated by the opioid epidemic. To the Governor and the legislators who stood up as champions for abused and neglected children, we encourage you to continue partnering with us on the road to mending our fragmented system.”
Sausser added that new federal requirements under the Family First Prevention Services Act will demand a strong state-county partnership to reform the system – a partnership that has already borne fruit under the leadership of Gov. DeWine. “There are big changes coming to children services, with new opportunities to improve outcomes for children and families at risk of being separated,” Sausser continued. “In order to maximize new federal resources and prevent shifting costs to counties, state leaders will need to stand with us as we work to grow Ohio’s infrastructure for meeting the behavioral health needs of parents and to ensure that children who must be separated from their own families can access appropriate, high-quality temporary placements close to home.”
Sausser concluded that PCSAO stands ready to build on its collaborative relationship with the Governor and General Assembly to enact elements of its Children’s Continuum of Care in the coming years.