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Children Services Advocates Ask State For More Funds To Deal With Impact Of Pandemic

South Central Ohio Job and Family Services covers Ross, Vinton and Hocking counties.
Gabe Rosenberg
South Central Ohio Job and Family Services covers Ross, Vinton and Hocking counties.

Advocates for children's services are criticizing Gov. Mike DeWine's proposed two-year state budget, which includes a funding increase in the first year and a decrease in the second.

Advocates say it won’t be enough to help counties deal with soaring costs with more than 15,000 children in foster care in Ohio.

“We are broke, to use blunt terms,” said Danny Brenneman, who heads Coshocton County Job and Family Services.

Brenneman told a House Finance subcommittee that substance abuse, especially opioids and the pandemic have ravaged his agency’s financial ability to help kids and families.

Angela Sausser with the Public Children Services Association of Ohio says counties need more money to help find kinship caregivers and to keep kids out of foster care.

“We don’t come lightly at this ask, I should say. That’s because our ask, which is $50 million additional to children services, is what we believe is the minimal cost increase that our counties are going to experience over the next two years,” Sauser says.

Sausser says that as the pandemic ends, more kids who have been neglected or abused over the last year could come into the system. Counties will need an additional $50 million just to support current programs, Sausser says.

However, with more children potentially coming into the system, she is worried about the future.

“As this pandemic ends, we could see additional kids coming into the foster care who have been suffering at home for over a year – experienced neglect, additional trauma, parents are struggling with addiction issues, etc.,” Sausser says.