Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has announced that eight counties hit hard by the opioid epidemic have been chosen to participate in the family finding and foster family recruitment program DeWine announced in August.
"Ohio still has a great need for families to help children in foster care. These can be biological family members or those who feel called to serve children in need," said Attorney General DeWine. "I am pleased the grants we announced earlier this year will be used to address this need in counties that have been greatly impacted by this opioid epidemic."
The pilot program, which is as part of a $1 million grant that the Attorney General announced in August, provides for the cost of a full-time staff member in each county who would be responsible for family search and engagement and foster family recruitment. The program will be administered by the Waiting Child Fund, a nonprofit with expertise in foster care which has pledged to contribute additional funds to the effort.
“Children are entering foster care throughout the state at an alarming rate. The Ohio Attorney General is responding to this crisis by investing in a proven solution which empowers and supports kinship and foster families. We are honored by the opportunity to grow our collaborative partnerships and ready to get to work helping more children and families,” said Mike Kenney, Executive Director of Waiting Child Fund.
The pilot counties include: Highland, Fairfield, Allen, Clark, Cuyahoga, Montgomery, Summit and Stark. DeWine noted statistics on how the opioid epidemic has impacted Ohio's child welfare system, including: An estimated half of all children in foster care are there because of parental substance abuse.
There are nearly 3,000 more children in the child welfare system today than when the opioid crisis began seven years ago. As of September 1st, more than 15,000 children were in foster care in Ohio. However, Ohio has less than 7,200 foster families to fill this need.