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OHIO Director: Unadopted need aid



Published: Thu, January 24, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The bill would help young adults ages 18 to 21 learn basic life skills such as finding jobs and housing.

By JEFF ORTEGA

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

COLUMBUS -- Help for unadopted youths making the transition from the state's foster care system to adulthood is desperately needed in Ohio, a children's advocate says.

"It is critical that we improve our services for this vulnerable population: the youth whom we have not been able to reunify with their birth families nor whom we have successfully connected with a permanent adopted family," Gayle Channing Tenenbaum, legislative director for the Public Children Services Association of Ohio, told state lawmakers Wednesday.

Doing so will help "go a long way toward fostering a healthy next generation of Ohioans," she told the House Health and Family Services Committee.

Supporting bill: Channing Tenenbaum, whose association represents the public child protection services in the state's 88 counties, was speaking in support of a bill sponsored by state Rep. Kerry Metzger, R-New Philadelphia.

Under the bill, which would target young adults ages 18 to 21, public child-protection agencies and private child-placement agencies would work with those in that age group on skills such as balancing a checkbook, finding and getting set up in housing, accessing transportation and education and finding employment.

The measure also would create agreements between child welfare agencies and the youth they serve.

"Creating public policy to assist and assure these vulnerable young people a successful transition from childhood to adulthood will fill a gap in the way we have traditionally treated these young adults," Channing Tenenbaum said.

A look at the numbers: Every year, more than 1,000 Ohio youth grow up in the state's foster-care system but are not adopted or reunited with their birth families, proponents say. Often, those youth don't learn about life skills.

Metzger unveiled changes to the bill, which he hoped to get passed in the House in the coming weeks.

Under the changes, there would be an evaluation provided to youths to determine what type of help would be best suited to that person. Another provision would provide for adult supervision in housing for 16- and 17-year-olds who are emancipated from the state's foster-care system.

The original bill would have allowed the use of Medicaid to provide insurance coverage for the youths, but changes unveiled Wednesday make the use of Medicaid contingent on whether money is available, Metzger aides said.

The bill also has the backing of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.




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