Legislation Proposed To Extend Foster Care Age Limits

A new bill has recently been introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives that would bring changes to the foster care age limit. According to the current Ohio laws, foster care maintenance and adoption assistance payments for a child generally terminate at age 18 because funding is unavailable after the end of the month of the child's 18th birthday. House Bill 50, however, seeks to expand federal Title IV-E foster care and adoption assistance payments in order to make extend the time frame for payments until the person turns 21.

To qualify under the proposed extension, a person must:

  • Have reached age 18, but not yet reached age 21;
  • Sign a voluntary placement agreement; and
  • Have been in custody of a public children services agency upon reaching 18 or have been in the custody of a PCSA at age 16 or 17, and then adopted.

In addition, the person must be completing or enrolled in a secondary, post-secondary or vocational program; participating in a program or activity designed to promote, or remove barriers to, employment; or employed at least 80 hours per month. An approved medical condition can excuse a person from having to comply with one of these requirements.

Federal payments would be administered by the Department of Job and Family Services and would be used to cover the cost of food, clothing, shelter, school supplies, visitation travel expenses, and personal items. In addition to extending the age for foster care maintenance and adoption assistance payment eligibility, the bill would establish the "bill of rights of a ward" and would require the probate court to furnish appointed guardians with an Ohio guardianship guide that includes the "bill of rights of a ward." If passed, the bill would not become effective until 2017.

Effects of Increasing Foster Care Age

Those in support of House Bill 50 believe that increasing the age of eligibility for foster care assistance will help thousands of foster care children every year. Annually, more than 1,000 foster children in Ohio leave the foster care system because they turn 18. Many of these children do not have a support system or the resources to care for themselves. As a result, many of these children are at a "high risk of homelessness, unemployment, insufficient education, dependence on public assistance, human trafficking, incarceration and other devastating outcomes."

According to research from Ohio Fostering Connections, 10 years after full implementation of the bill, it is expected that "Ohio will benefit dollar-for dollar by providing supportive services to young people who age out of foster care and to those who are adopted from foster care at age 16 or later." Pike County Children Services Executive Director Phyllis Amlin-Snyder also believes the bill is positive because it would allow aged-out children "the opportunity to continue to have a roof over their head, go to school, and receive these benefits."

Contact a Cleveland Family Law Attorney

If you have questions regarding the proposed bill or any other family law questions, Laubacher & Co.'s family law attorneyscan help. Laubacher & Co.'s attorneys have experience in a variety of family law matters, including divorce, child custody and adoption, spousal support, and domestic violence. Contact our Cleveland family law attorneys today for a free consultation.

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