House passes changes to foster care system

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 11, 2021

COLUMBUS — The Ohio House of Representatives today passed House Bill 442, legislation which would address the workforce shortages facing Ohio’s foster care agencies.

The bill, sponsored by State Representatives Sharon Ray, R-Wadsworth, and Jason Stephens, R- Kitts Hill, will make two critical changes in the foster care system, expanding the list of qualified individuals that are able to perform home assessor duties and create parity between private and public agencies professional treatment staff.

“This is a huge win for the foster care system,” said Stephens. “These children need our help finding more stability and this bill creates fairness and better access for home assessors to help get this children into that environment.”

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The addition to home assessors would allow individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree in human services fields of sociology, psychology, guidance and counseling, education, religious education, business administration, criminal justice, public administration, child-care administration, nursing and family studies to perform home assessments.

“I appreciate the legislature’s support of HB 442 and their efforts to place children in safe foster homes,” said Ray. “This legislation allows licensed professionals to focus on providing necessary treatment by broadening the qualifications for home assessors.”

The new legislation would also close the education and licensure gap between private and public professional treatment staff. Under current law, both private and public professional treatment staff provide rehabilitative services, home studies, clinical directions and supervise treatment of children in specialized foster homes.

The legislation passed a vote of 84-1, and will now head to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.