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Opioid Crisis Continues Strain On Ohio's Underfunded Foster Care System

Ross County Family Services case work Lori Myers
Gabe Rosenberg
Lori Myers, an investigator in Ross County, prepares to visit homes reported to Family Services. Myers has been at the department for 18 years.

On the same day that the federal government released stats showing Ohio has the second-highest opioid death rate in the nation, the state’s children services’ agencies are saying their system is straining under the pressure of the deadly crisis.

There are more than 15,500 kids in foster care on any given day in Ohio. Angela Sausser with the Public Children Services Association of Ohio said that’s likely to go to more than 20,000 by 2020.

“Based on our projections and where we’re going to be with children and foster care in just the next three years, there’s no way our counties can continue to primarily fund children services on their own,” Sausser said.

In Ohio, local communities pay 52 percent of child services costs, and the federal government pays 38 percent. The state government pays the remaining 10 percent.

Sausser said even if the state doubled what it spends on children services, which now is around $60 million, it would still be last in the nation for funding these agencies. 

“We have projected that in the next three years, we will see a 33 percent increase of kids coming into foster care on any given day, and our foster homes are only increasing at a rate of about 2.5 percent a year.”

There are a 1,000 more children in foster care now than there were this time last year.