State Representatives Dorothy Pelanda (R-Marysville) and Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City) held a press conference in the Statehouse today to discuss House Bill 50, legislation they recently introduced aimed at improving the lives of Ohio’s foster children who age out of the system each year. The bill also reintroduces modified provisions related to guardianship law contained in House Bill 624 from the previous General Assembly.

The central-Ohio legislators were joined by Ursel McElroy, the Deputy Director of Education and Policy for Crime Victims in the Ohio Attorney General’s Office; Mark Mecum, the Chairman of Ohio Fostering Connections; and Lamar Graham, a former foster youth.

 “House Bill 50 is designed to protect two of our state’s most vulnerable populations,” Pelanda said. “As a family lawyer for more than 30 years, and having been appointed a guardian or attorney for a foster child, I have witnessed first-hand the heartbreaking circumstances of these situations and the confines and frailties of the law as it relates to these individuals.”

The legislation would increase to 21 the age for which foster youth are eligible to receive services, provided they meet certain education and work requirements. The bill also is designed to raise awareness of the issues associated with caring for the more than 67,000 juvenile and elderly wards in the state.

“This is a topic we have actively worked on during the previous General Assembly, which, though it was not enacted, has provided a great starting point for this ongoing effort,” Grossman said. “I want to thank the media for shining light on this very important issue, and I look forward to continuing our mission to enacting much-needed reform.”

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.

House Bill 50 has been referred to the House Community and Family Advancement Committee. It is awaiting its first hearing.

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