Clark and Montgomery counties will participate in a new pilot program to recruit foster families, according to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office.
Eight counties particularly hard-hit by the opioid addiction crisis were selected for the program, which will be funded by a $1-million grant. The money will cover a full-time staff member in each county who will be responsible for family search and recruitment.
“Ohio still has a great need for families to help children in foster care. These can be biological family members or those who feel called to serve children in need,” said DeWine in a written statement.
The other counties selected for the program are: Allen, Cuyahoga, Fairfield, Highland, Summit and Stark.
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Roughly half of all children in Ohio’s foster care system are there because parental substance abuse and there are nearly 3,000 more kids in foster care now than when the opioid crisis began seven years ago, DeWine’s office said. While there are 15,000 children in foster care, Ohio has less than 7,200 foster families.
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When a county public children services agency determines a child can no longer live safely at home, local courts step in to give custody to the agency, which then looks for kinship care or placement in a licensed foster home.
The Public Children Services Association of Ohio reports that children are remaining in protective custody longer because of the time it takes for drug addicted parents to recover. Ohio ranks last in the nation for state funding in children services, according to PCSAO.
Related: Drug crisis traumatizing children across Ohio