March 7, 2019
COLUMBUS – Today before an audience of county children services agency leaders, including Executive Director of Wayne County Children Services, Deanna Nichols-Stika, Governor Mike DeWine announced an unprecedented 95 percent increase in the state’s investment in protecting abused and neglected children. That $74 million announcement, along with related spending proposals, makes 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, Deanna Nichols-Stika said.
“This proposed investment is very needed in Wayne County. We have seen first-hand the trauma impacts on children and their families coping with crisis in their lives. Currently, our agency is serving over 220 children and their families. The proposed funds will position our staff to improve our services and supports for our families and relieve the financial strain we have experienced with increasing placement costs,” Deanna Nichols-Stika stated.
“Governor DeWine is standing up for the vulnerable children and families of every county across the state, including each of our children in Wayne County,” Deanna Nichols-Stika said. “This investment will help us address the crisis in our children services system by providing funding for rising placement costs, serving families struggling with addiction and mental illness, preventing children from coming into foster care, and providing more suitable placements for children who do have to come into custody.”
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, Governor DeWine announced:
• $25 million for multi-system youth 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 the Bridges program for youth who emancipate from our system without achieving permanency;
• $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 our caseworkers be more efficient and productive in the field.
“The Governor is saving and giving hope to a system this is in crisis. He is making wise investments,” Deanna Nichols-Stika said. “These programs will alleviate the pressure on our county agency budget. But more importantly, he is saving children and families by improving their chance for a better future.”
Wayne County Children Services has been a longstanding member of Public Children Services Association of Ohio, which is working with county agencies across the state and other stakeholders to support the Governor’s proposals. “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,” Deanna Nichols-Stika said. “As an association, we stand ready to work with our local legislators on the Governor’s proposals.”