Ohio shortchanges children and their kinship caregivers
Posted November 18, 2020 in Press Releases
As the drug epidemic drives more children into Ohio’s child welfare system, state lawmakers must provide more resources to help relatives and family friends take care of children who have been separated from their biological parents, according to a new report by Policy Matters Ohio. Currently, Ohio provides less support to kinship caregivers than to licensed foster care providers, in violation of a court ruling. Ohio’s current approach also disadvantages Black children, who are more likely to be cared for by a family member or friend after being removed from their parents.
The 2017 D.O. v. Glisson federal ruling confirmed that children placed with approved relative caregivers have a right to the same foster care maintenance payments that children placed with licensed foster parents receive. Ohio policymakers still have not moved resources or changed the law to support these children and kinship families.
“When a relative or family friend steps up to care for a child in need, they are committing an act of love,” said Policy Matters Ohio Researcher Will Petrik. “Yet, for many relatives who want to help, assuming the care of a child can be a financial hardship. Children in kinship care and the kinship families need more support and based on Glisson, have a right to it. It’s in everyone’s best interest that friends and relatives who are ready and willing to nurture a child be supported in doing so.”
Kinship caregivers get a fraction of the support licensed foster care providers receive. For example, in Cuyahoga County, a kinship caregiver receives $302 a month to care for one child while a foster provider receives a minimum of $624 and a maximum of $2,619 a month. The Glisson decision was supposed to change this: children placed with approved kinship caregivers deserve the same level of financial support as children placed with licensed foster care providers.
Black children are almost twice as likely as white children in the child welfare system to be placed with kinship caregivers, who receive fewer resources, training and support from child welfare agencies compared to non-kin foster care providers. Black children are also much more likely to be removed from their family of origin and placed in the child welfare system. Factors include bias on the part of people who report children to the child welfare system and among caseworkers who assess whether to remove a child from their home. Structural racism also deprives Black families of the resources and supports they need through jobs that pay low wages, unequal treatment by the criminal justice system and less access to financing and housing opportunities.
“Any child entering the child welfare system has been through trauma,” Petrik said. “In the next state budget, Governor DeWine and state legislators can bring Ohio into compliance with the Glisson case and help more children and their caregivers get the support they need to thrive.”