In Ohio, as many as 19,000 children are projected to be in the foster care system by this time next year. State leaders are offering a plan that could address the crisis by alleviating some of the financial stress that comes with adoption through reduced interest rates.
The pending legislation, to be introduced in the Ohio House, would reduce interest rates by 1%-3%. Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague (R-Ohio), who supports the plan known as Family Forward, says adoption can cost families $10,000 - $50,000.
"Across Ohio, there are families wishing to open their hearts and homes through adoption," said Sprague. "But the financial barriers they face are daunting and enough to deter even the most compassionate of prospective parents. Through Family Forward, we hope to chip away at these financial stressors and provide families with much needed relief."
Angela Boblitt is executive director of Choosing Hope Adoption. She says reducing interest rates for loans to pay for adoption can go a long way. Boblitt says she and her husband ran into a financial roadblock when they were adopting one of their children.
"The reality of our situation was that fourteen thousand dollars stood between us and our ability to bring home one of Ohio's most vulnerable children. We had put our yes on the table but the need for funds was a barrier to our daughter having immediate permanency in her forever home," said Boblitt.
When a loan is approved, Sprague’s office would deposit funds at the bank or credit union in exchange for a lower interest rate. Sprague says it would not pose a financial risk to the state.
House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) says reducing barriers to adoption should be an important goal for the state.
"You know anything we can do to encourage people to adopt kids I think we need to do that. As you've heard me say before, we have a crisis at the state as far as our children are concerned, especially those that have been impacted by the opioid epidemic," says Householder.
Rep. Jon Cross (R-Kenton) is the sponsor of the proposed legislation and says about 16 other members of the Ohio House are expected to sign on to support the bill.
"The adoption process should be a celebration of life, love, and family, and this bill can help Ohioans secure funding needed to start the adoption process," Cross said in a written statement.
The bill has not yet been formally introduced.