Multi-System Youth Frequently Asked Questions


Who are multi-system youth (MSY)?

  • Children and teenagers with complex needs that cannot be met by a single state department. These children have two or more significant challenges, including physical or mental illness, drug or alcohol addiction, developmental disabilities or severe trauma.
  • They are involved, or at risk of becoming involved, with either or both the child protection or juvenile justice systems. Services for these children are often not coordinated across state systems.
  • The complex needs of multi-system youth exhaust the resources of their families and their communities, and there are large gaps in funding and access to care across the state. Ohio’s opioid epidemic has created more multi-system youth, with many experiencing severe trauma.
  • One particular group of MSY are children and young people who come into state custody, not because they need protection from neglect or abuse, but because their caring and engaged families cannot find or afford the treatment they need. These families are faced with the horrible choice to relinquish custody of their child as the only way to get services.  According to Public Children’s Services Association of Ohio (PCSA), of the multi-system youth that are in custody, nearly 1 in 3 enter the child protection system via custody relinquishment.



What needs to happen in this budget?

The 130th General Assembly Joint Legislative Committee on Multi-System Youth, led by former Senator Randy Gardner and former Representative Sarah LaTourette, recommended:

  • Dedicated, flexible funds to help youth and families in crisis access appropriate care and services, including residential treatment.
  • Collect and share data on MSY across state systems.
  • Modernize local Family and Children First Councils.
  • Conduct an independent audit and evaluation of youth access to residential treatment.
  • Medicaid reimbursable service for High-Fidelity Wraparound, which provides intensive care coordination for youth and families.
  • Medicaid reimbursable peer services for youth and families.



Doesn’t the proposed budget increase funds for MSY?

The House-passed budget moving to the Senate implements all but one of the Joint Legislative Committee’s recommendations. The budget includes an annual increase of $25 million for child welfare proposed by the governor, with an additional $30 million annually added by the House. Statewide costs for room and board in foster homes, group homes or residential treatment facilities for children in the child welfare system totaled $384 million in SFY2018, up $54 million in two years. These dollars are badly needed in the child welfare system. There should be additional dedicated funds allocated to address the needs of multi-system youth and prevent voluntary custody relinquishment.




What is High-Fidelity Wraparound?

An evidence-based team planning process to meet the needs prioritized by the youth and family. It is designed to improve the family’s ability to manage services, develop a natural support system over time and integrate all services and supports into one plan. National data shows MSY are more likely to stay at home, have shorter outplacement stays and have increased functioning in their homes and communities.