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State lawmakers, advocates reveal action plan to support Ohio families with multi-system youth

Bipartisan recommendations aim to keep families together, connect youth with critical support services
June 29, 2016
Democratic Newsroom

Press Release Poster

State Reps. Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) and Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) today joined families, youth, advocates and colleagues from across the aisle to announce the release of the Joint Legislative Committee on Multi-System Youth Recommendations, a bipartisan action plan on how the state can better deliver behavioral and developmental services to children and families in need while reducing the need for custody relinquishment.

“As the mother of two children, I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it must be to be forced to give up custody of a child because the necessary care is no longer affordable,” said Driehaus. “By focusing on clear strategies to make developmental and behavioral services more accessible to those who need it most, I believe we can build a safety net to help children get the care that they need while keeping families together.”

According to the Public Children Services Association of Ohio (PCSAO), multi-system youth are those in need of services from two or more state support systems: child protective services, mental health and addiction services, developmental disabilities services and the juvenile justice system. Despite the fact that many have no history of abuse or neglect, Ohio’s child protection system is often accessed as the means to provide care for multi-system youth when other agencies lack the resources to meet their high intensity, high cost needs.

“Too many Ohio children face extraordinary challenges due to no fault of their own, but in many cases must be taken away from their families in order to receive they critical care they need. I believe these recommendations present a real opportunity to help keep families together and save lives,” said Boyd. “I am also grateful that my Republican colleagues on the commission agree with me regarding the need for continued bipartisan oversight as the administration and the legislature consider the best ways to implement these recommendations.”

The report released today by the bipartisan, bicameral committee detailed six recommendations for consideration by the full General Assembly, including suggestions for improved data collection, ensuring youth and families have access to peer support and peer mentor programs, connecting youth with moderate to severe needs to High Fidelity Wraparound services, and establishing a safety net of state level funding for multi-system youth in order to reduce custody relinquishment.