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Child advocates: Ohio state foster plan illegal, inadequate

COLUMBUS (AP) — Ohio’s plan for addressing disparities in payments made to adults caring for related children but who aren’t licensed foster parents is illegal and inadequate, according to a new filing in a federal lawsuit.

At issue are relatives who aren’t licensed caregivers but are approved to care for children taken from their parents. The arrangement is often referred to as kinship care.

Child advocates argue the state must follow a 2017 federal appeals court decision ordering equality in payments to kinship caregivers, and in November sued to force adherence to that ruling.

Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill into law late last yea r providing a partial fix. The plan authorizes a $10.20 per child per day payment for kinship caregivers for up to nine months.

Advocates say that money falls far short of what licensed foster care parents receive, citing as an example the $1,500 to $9,667 monthly payments per foster child in Hamilton County.

The state has asked a federal judge to dismiss the 2020 lawsuit, arguing the new plan fixes the problem. Lawyers representing children in kinship care disagree, saying the plan doesn’t come close to bridging the financial gap.

“On its face, the new program continues to harmfully and unlawfully treat approved relative foster homes differently, because they involve relative caregivers,” attorneys argued in a Wednesday court filing.