Task force established to evaluate state's Children Services system
Posted On : 02/06/2020

Task force established to evaluate state's Children Services system 

A task force established to evaluate the state's children services system has identified areas of focus for an overhaul. Gov. Mike DeWine's Children's Services Transformation Advisory Council released a report Wednesday on its initial findings, summarizing its outreach efforts that included 10 regional forums across the state. The council is set to present its final recommendations to the governor in May.

"It has been crucial for members of the advisory council to hear directly from those who have been touched by the children services system," Gov. DeWine said in a statement. "Those who took time to provide testimony are the reason this council will be able to develop quality recommendations that will reform the system and provide better outcomes for all of Ohio's children and families."

The council heard seven core themes during the forums, which it identified as action areas.

The first theme was the prevention of system involvement, with witnesses encouraging the state to develop strategies to support early intervention and help multi-system youth. Another theme dealt with the children services workforce, including the recruitment, training and retention of high-performing staff and the reduction of caseloads to cut down on burnout.

Witnesses also testified to concerns about the practice of casework in the state and encouraged more support for kinship care families.

On foster care, the panel heard testimony from foster youth, who wanted formalized rights and support as they age out, and foster parents, who also wanted formalized rights and more services and support.

The panel also heard testimony on issues in the adoption system and the role of the justice system.

"Ohio's most vulnerable are in need of change now more than ever," Gov. DeWine said. "I look forward to seeing the collaboration, sense of urgency, and compassion this council will provide."

The panel will meet through May to develop and issue specific recommendations for the governor to review.

Children services were a key focus of the biennial operating budget, which increased state support for public children services agencies by $100 million.

Gov. DeWine then announced the creation of the advisory council in November, saying the opioid crisis has placed a severe burden on the state's foster care system.

The Governor's Children's Initiative Child Services Transformation Initial Findings Report from February of 2020 can be found here.

William Sieloff

Administrative Magistrate / Legal Director
Franklin County Court of Common Pleas

Domestic Relations Division and Juvenile Branch