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Policy Matters Ohio

Ohio extends a lifeline to foster kids

June 14, 2016

Ohio extends a lifeline to foster kids

June 14, 2016

As our state legislators broke for summer recess, they did good by aligning Ohio with dozens of other states that have extended services to foster kids until age 21.

House Bill 50 provides for housing, educational and other assistance for the more than 1,000 Ohioans a year who age out of the system at 18. The services until age 21 also apply to kids adopted after age 16.

In a powerful op-ed published last year, former Policy Matters research intern Brant Duda detailed the many risks faced by 18 year olds aging out of the foster system: Many go from foster care to homelessness and prison. Half don't finish high school or earn an equivalency degree.

Brant, a child-welfare advocate who pushed for the bill, knows the perils of being on your own at 18 with no supports. He was a foster kid.

"For me, being on my own at 18 meant trying to stay afloat while putting myself through college. I was dropped off at college with a bag full of clothes, my television and a single box with my possessions," he wrote in The Plain Dealer. "I had to learn how to be an adult in a hurry. Things such as opening a bank account, doing laundry in a laundromat and shopping for food were new experiences for which I had no teachers."

Since that writing, Brant earned a master's of social administration and a certificate in non-profit management from Case Western Reserve University. He works as a manager of strategy and communications for Strategy Design Partners, a Cleveland consulting firm.

He is thrilled that lawmakers moved the bill forward, even though questions remain about how the services will be administered.

"It's right in line with what other states are doing," Brant said. "It forces Ohio to help thousands of 18 year olds every year, instead of them being arrested, becoming homeless or falling into other systems... when you turn 18, it's a free for all."

-- Harlan Spector

Harlan is Policy Matters communications director.



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