Ohio to implement family mapping to connect children in foster care with Forever Families
Published 1:20 am Tuesday, December 7, 2021
COLUMBUS — Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Job and Family Services director Matt Damschroder announced Tuesday that Ohio is the first state to implement two technology tools from Connect Our Kids.
The tools will help children services professionals connect Ohio’s 3,100 foster youth with their forever family. They were joined by partners from InnovateOhio, Kinnect, the Dave Thomas Foundation and Ohio CASA.
The Family Connections tool is a genogram or a digital diagram that illustrates an individual’s family members. Professionals can use the desktop or mobile app versions to build family trees, find family contact information and engage family and supporters of children in foster care.
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The People Search tool uses public information from over 300 sources and covers over 3 billion people to exponentially expand the pool of potential kinship caregivers, far beyond just those in current contact with the child’s parents.
“Using this technology is data sharing at its best to help find forever homes for kids in foster care. It’s going to save children’s services professionals time and resources,” Husted said. “Gone are the days of them having to map out family trees and contact information on their own. This technology does it for them, and then makes it widely available to other professionals.”
“The Ohio Department of Job and Family Service facilitates many programs to help children find their forever home,” director Damschroder said. “From our ‘30 Days to Family’ program, which focuses on placement of kids soon after they enter the foster system, to our Wendy’s Wonderful Kids partnership, which helps older youth in the system, technology can help us be more successful in almost every way.”
Children services transformation has been a top priority for the DeWine-Husted administration; innovative programs and technology such as Connect Our Kids, 30 Days to Family, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids and Ohio CASA are playing a significant role in reforming the foster care system and bettering the lives of Ohio’s most vulnerable children.
30 Days to Family, a program brought to Ohio by then-Attorney General Mike DeWine and administered through Kinnect, collaborates with children’s services caseworkers to identify a vast array of connections for children and families involved with children services. As a result of investments in the administration’s state operating budgets, over the last four years, the program has grown to over cover 27 counties and helped 1,700 children in Ohio’s children services system.
Ohio CASA helps Ohio children emerge from the trauma of abuse and neglect to an environment where they can thrive. They recruit, screen and train volunteers from local communities to help juvenile courts keep children safe and determine the child’s best interest. As a result of investments in the administration’s state operating budgets, Ohio CASA has gone from serving 36 counties to 57 counties and is looking to expand to 62 counties.
Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, a program through the Dave Thomas Foundation, hires recruiters that are dedicated to finding permanent families for children in foster care who are most often overlooked. Recruiters use an evidence-based, child-focused recruitment model to find the right family for every child. As a result of investments in the administration’s state operating budgets, since 2004, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids has matched more than 2,000 Ohio children with families and helped more than 1,300 Ohio children find forever homes.