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Governor Signs Bill to Extend Ohio Foster Care Emancipation Age from 18 to 21

June 17, 2016

Child Focus Out of Home Care representatives were recently featured on 700-WLW to discuss House Bill 50.  On Monday, June 13, 2016, Governor John Kasich signed HB 50 known across public and private agencies as the “Fostering Connections Bill”. This bill which was widely supported by concerned youth, provider organizations and political leaders in Ohio. This long- awaited legislation will extend foster care services and supports eligibility for Ohio’s most vulnerable young adults through their 21st birthday.   Youth adopted on or following their 16th birthday will also be eligible for the extended care provisions.

This common sense law makes it possible for foster youth attending college, vocational or work programs to receive on-going financial support, housing and needed services to ensure they experience a smooth transition into adulthood. Prior to this law being signed, young people in foster care are abruptly discharged from the child welfare system at age 18.

Ohio statistics evidence that outcomes for these youth are quite poor with many by age 19 experiencing significant problems including: 14% have a child of their own, only 12% are employed full time, 26% are homeless and an additional 36% have experienced a period of incarceration. This extended eligibility period will benefit young people exiting foster care by helping them establish a positive, healthy path to adulthood.

According to Mental Health & Addictions Advocacy Coalition (MHAC) Each year about 900 to 1,100 people leave foster care at age 18.  This will continue payments and services for those youth if they are in college, in a vocational education program, or a workforce program.  Rep. Dorothy Pelanda, R-Marysville sponsored the legislation with Rep. Cheryl Grossman, R-Grove City, Next, there will be a push to fund this initiative in the next state operating budget. Implementation is expected in about 18 months, with funding to be determined in the next budget with a needed $9.7 million to fund the first year. 

Thank you Governor Kasich for the “Fostering Connections” Law!