As an advocate for children, youth and families for more than 52 years, I am grateful that Ohio’s Governor, House and Senate listened to parents and young people and have taken action to end the awful practice of forced custody relinquishment of multi-system youth. The term ‘multi-system youth’ refers to children and teenagers with complex behavioral, physical and developmental needs that require the assistance of multiple state and local departments and agencies.
This week’s announcement marks the culmination of five years of hard work from parents and advocates.
The Governor announced Wednesday that the Ohio Departments of Medicaid and Job and Family Services will issue $31 million in new funding to support multi-system youth and their families. As a member of the Ohio Multi-System Youth Coalition, a network of parents, youth, child advocates and service providers, I would like to praise the Governor’s actions.
The reality for multi-system youth and their families up until this announcement has been bleak. Sometimes the needs of these young people are so profound that they require services, such as out-of-home residential treatment, that private insurance or Medicaid do not pay for. This forces parents to make the heart-wrenching decision to relinquish custody of their children to a child services agency so they can get the help they need.
This week’s announcement marks the culmination of five years of hard work from parents and advocates, and it is especially heartening to see such broad bipartisan support for these families. It was the testimony of parents and young people during the last budget cycle that drew allies in the Governor’s cabinet and in both parties in the House and Senate.
We are grateful that parents will now no longer have to relinquish custody of their children, and go through that mental anguish, so children can get the help they need.