Ohio Advisory Group Makes Recommendations to Attorney General
In late 2012, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine put together a panel known as the Foster Care Advisory Group, a collection of child welfare expert tasked with taking a close look at the state’s child welfare system, and with making specific recommendations to increase the safety and well-being of children in foster care in Ohio. In April, 2013, that committee came back to DeWine with the following recommendations:
- Reduce the number of times that a child goes in and out of foster care
- Provide more funding for child welfare
- Allow foster parents to actively participate in all court proceedings related to foster care. The panel acknowledged that this would require some special training for foster parents, so that they could maximize their effectiveness in the process. The panel also proposed that foster youth have a more active voice in the legal process.
- Enforce the rules established for guardians ad litem—The panel found that there were many instances where guardians ad litem had failed to follow Rule 48, which sets minimum expectations for guardians ad litem. As a consequence, many children in Ohio did not receive adequate legal representation.
- Provide mentors for foster youth—Experts acknowledged that one of the most difficult periods in the life of a foster child is the transition from youth to adulthood. The panel recommended putting a mentoring program in place to provide guidance at this critical juncture.
- Allow children in foster care to live a normal life—The panel found that many children in foster care were not granted the same opportunities and privileges as biological or adopted children, making it difficult for them to socialize and develop skills for success as adults.
- Narrow the use and application of Planned Permanent Living Arrangements—Ohio places too many foster children in Planned Permanent Living Arrangements, where they are not eligible for adoption, and will seldom be reunified with their families, virtually assuring that they will become adults without ever having a safe and permanent family situation.
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