COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is urging Ohioans to consider becoming foster parents, as the need for foster families has dramatically increased in the face of the opioid epidemic. DeWine’s call to action came at a news conference Thursday, where he also announced several efforts to help becoming a foster parent easier, including expediting background checks.
“There is a growing chasm between the number of available foster families and the increasing number of children who enter the child welfare system because one or both of their parents are drug addicts,” DeWine said. “Today, I want to issue a call to Ohioans who may be interested in being a foster parent. I ask them to make that leap and open their home to a kid or kids who could use a stable, loving home.”
DeWine noted statistics on how the opioid epidemic has impacted Ohio’s child welfare system, including:
An estimated half of all children in foster care are there because one or both of their parents are drug addicts.
There are nearly 3,000 more children in the child welfare system today than when the opioid crisis began seven years ago.
As of Aug. 5, more than 15,000 children were in foster care in Ohio.
However, Ohio has just 7,200 foster families to fill this need.
To aid potential foster families, DeWine announced several directives the Ohio Attorney General’s Office was undertaking to make the process easier, including:
The creation of a webpage on the Attorney General’s website (www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/FosterFamilies) to aggregate important information needed for becoming a foster family.
Allowing foster parent applicants to expedite their required background checks through a dedicated email address (FosterCheck@OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov).
More than $1 million in grants to child welfare agencies to fund staff and help recruit new foster families in hard-hit counties has been established.
DeWine was joined at his news conference by several Ohioans who work in foster care, including Kristi Burre, Deputy Director of Protective Services at Fairfield County Job and Family Services, and Kate Yonkura, a foster parent from Delaware County.