VOICES: Every child deserves the support of a loving family

Matt Damschroder is director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. He and his wife, Carrie, are the proud parents of two adopted children.

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Matt Damschroder is director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. He and his wife, Carrie, are the proud parents of two adopted children.

In our family, one thing is certain: Motherhood is clearly a vocation of extremes. During many days, nothing surpasses the joy a mother experiences as she meets the physical and emotional needs of her children. There are days, though, when the responsibilities of nurturing members of our future society are overwhelming and providing for their needs takes its toll.

These experiences are especially true of adoptive mothers and those in the foster care system. These individuals have chosen to care for someone else’s children as if they were their own, which is most admirable. During this month’s celebration of Foster Care Month, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), Office of Families and Children is highlighting the theme: “Relative and Kin Connections: Keeping Families Strong.” Ohio has more than 8,000 certified foster families who have committed to providing a temporary safe-haven for kids when it is not safe for them to remain in their own homes. Right now, nearly 15,000 children and youth are cared for by these families.

My wife and I adopted two children through the foster care system. We understand the challenges foster parents face, but we also know first hand that the vast rewards far outweigh any challenge. And in the end, everything is worth it.

Of course, the goal is to safely reunify a child with their first family. Because parents, kinship caregivers, and foster caregivers have worked together, 7,100 children and youth were returned to their families in 2021! When that is not possible, foster and adoptive parents, especially those with kinship connections, become a critical option.

We know that just because young adults “age out” of foster care, their need for a family’s support, including the care of a mom, doesn’t disappear. In the coming weeks, some of these young adults will graduate from high school with cheers coming from families who chose to open their home either temporarily, as a foster family, or permanently through adoption.

Today, I would like to thank the moms in our resource families for the care and stability they provide. Every child deserves the support of a loving family.

In 2020, Governor Mike DeWine’s Children Services Transformation Advisory Council’s made 37 recommendations to reform Ohio’s children services system. Last year, the Ohio Legislature passed the Foster Youth Bill of Rights and the Resource Family Bill of Rights and Governor DeWine proudly signed them into law. Resource families and the kids they serve can have confidence that they are supported by the State of Ohio.

If you would like to learn more about becoming a foster caregiver, I invite you to explore the options at FosterAndAdopt.jfs.ohio.gov.

Matt Damschroder is director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. He and his wife, Carrie, are the proud parents of two adopted children.

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