COLUMBUS — State Rep. Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) voted for legislation that increases the age for which persons are eligible to receive foster care and adoption assistance, as well as addresses issues associated with caring for the more than 67,000 juvenile and elderly Ohioans subject to guardianship in the state.
After having passed the House Community and Family Advancement Committee and Finance Committee earlier this year, the House voted in favor of the measure. House Bill 50 requires the director of the Department of Job and Family Services to expand payments for foster care and adoption to qualifying persons up to the age of 21.
According to Ohio Fostering Connections, an organization that advocates for foster youth, more than 1,000 Ohio youth age out of foster care at the age of 18 each year, putting them at increased risk of homelessness, unemployment, insufficient education, dependence on public assistance and human trafficking.
Additionally, HB 50 requires the probate court to furnish appointed guardians with a guardianship guide, which is to be written by either the Attorney General or the Ohio Judicial Conference.
“This legislation provides additional protections to at-risk youths and guardians that will dramatically improve the foster care system,” Smith said.
HB 50 states that the expansion of foster care services must be funded by July 1, 2017. It now awaits consideration in the Ohio Senate.