Mike DeWine

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday signed the new two-year state budget bill into law. (Source file photo)

COLUMBUS -- Gov. Mike DeWine today proposed an unprecedented $74 million increase in the state’s investment in protecting abused and neglected children.

Public Children Services Association of Ohio Director Angela Sausser said DeWine "made good on a campaign promise that Ohio should not be last in the nation when it comes to the state’s responsibility for funding such a critical program.

“We are deeply grateful to the governor for standing up for vulnerable children and families by proposing a 95 percent increase in the state’s investment,” Sausser said.

“Never before have we seen such a laser focus on giving abused and neglected children a chance for safety and permanency, on giving families struggling with addiction and mental illness a chance for stability, and on giving the caseworkers and caregivers who help them a chance for achieving better outcomes," Sausser said.

Richland County Children Services Director Patty Harrelson also praised the governor's announcement.

"I am very excited about his priorities for our children and our work," Harrelson said. "Our children and our families need our commitment, both in services and funding.

"Governor DeWine has, for his entire career cared about kids and his budget priorities show this. We realize that there is much work to do in coming weeks and we stand ready to support our governor and our state legislators in this process," Harrelson said.

In addition to increasing the State Child Protection Allocation by $30 million per year, up from $60 million, to give struggling county agencies the ability to pay the rising costs of serving children, DeWine announced:

• $25 million for multi-system youth that will prevent parents from having to relinquish custody of children with developmental disabilities or severe mental illness so that they can get the treatment they need;

• $8.5 million to support struggling grandparents and other kin care providers who unexpectedly find themselves caring for children, and to invest in recruiting much-needed foster parents;

• $5.5 million to expand Bridges, a program for youth who emancipate from the child welfare system;

• $4.5 million to expand evidence-based programs like Ohio START and 30 Days to Family to prevent children from coming into foster care; and

• $2.6 million to help caseworkers be more efficient and productive in the field.

“The Governor is saving a system in crisis and making smart investments that will position children services for the future,” Sausser said.

“These programs will alleviate the pressure on county agencies struggling to pay rising costs, but more importantly, they will literally change the trajectory of children and families, improving and even saving lives," she said.

Sausser noted that no other governor has made such bold investments in children services.

“The governor’s leadership, with the support of his administration, will afford Ohio’s vulnerable children and families the quality services that will strengthen our state across the board,” she said. “We stand ready to work with the General Assembly to bring the governor’s proposals to fruition.”

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