The advisory council that’s been looking into how to improve Ohio’s overloaded child welfare system has made some preliminary recommendations the state can take now to ease problems. And more are likely to come in the future.
The Children's Services Transformation Advisory Council, established by Gov. Mike DeWine, has been holding hearings throughout the state. The 25 member panel is made up of child welfare advocates, foster parents, kinship caregivers, adoptive parents and even some former foster youth. It has issued a preliminary report that includes stepping up foster and adoptive parent recruitment efforts. Gov Mike DeWine says it also recommends providing more support, training and even pay for caseworkers.
“These caseworkers have a huge caseload. The ratio is just very, very difficult or impossible for that caseworker to do what they need to do. We also have a high burnout rate which is very understandable based on the work that they are doing," DeWine says.
The preliminary suggestions also include early intervention with young kids in the foster care system, cutting red tape between organizations, and training and legal help for family members who want to adopt at-risk kids. It also calls for a formalized system to review any foster care deaths.
DeWine says it's important to remember foster children are in diffierent situations. Some children in the child welfare system live with relatives while others live with foster parents. He says it's important to make sure the state addresses each child's situation appropriately.
“I think we have to look at each individual case and the most important thing is always the best interest of the child.”
The panel will get more feedback in the coming months. It is expected to issue its final recommendations this summer.