The Youth Ombudsman Coalition was initiated by the Overcoming Hurdles in Ohio Youth Advisory Board, which is a statewide organization of young people (aged 14-24) who have experienced foster care that exists to be the knowledgeable statewide voice that influences policies and practices that impact youth who have or will experience out of home care.
Members of this growing coalition include: ACTION Ohio, Adoption Network Cleveland, Athens CASA/GAL Program, Better Together Toledo, the Children’s Defense Fund, Columbus State Scholar Network, Community of Hope, Disability Rights Ohio, El’lesun, the Fostering Achievement Network, iFoster Inc, the Juvenile Justice Coalition, Junior League of Columbus, the Miresa Arts Foundation, the National Center for Housing & Child Welfare, the Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition, the Ohana Project and Think of Us.
Ohio foster care youth, alumni and allies began advocating for a Youth Ombudsman Office in 2018.
In early 2021, we designed LSC language to be added to HB 110, but it wasn’t included when the bill passed. We understood that there were many priorities competing to be included in the budget bill, and remain deeply grateful for ongoing conversations with Ohio legislators related to the needs of young people in and from foster care.
HB 4, which recently passed in the Ohio House of Representatives, includes language regarding an ombudsman office related to child welfare, but it does not currently reflect what Ohio youth have asked for… The language on the left, in blue, reflects what youth have requested:
We are asking for Representatives Manchester and Plummer to amend the wording of HB 4, and we are asking the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate Finance Committee and Senate Leadership not to pass the bill unless this language is amended. Here is a link to our strike-through document.
Taking Action to Help:
- Please sign the petition, and encourage others to do so
- Please promote the sign-on letter to organizations
- Please call Ohio legislators, as outlined below
1.) Who can I call?
- Representative Manchester to ask her to amend HB 4
- Representative Plummer to ask him to amend HB 4
- Chair Nathan Manning and Vice Chair Rob McColley of the Senate Judiciary Committee to ask them not to sign HB 4 unless it is amended
2.) What can I say?
- Here are Talking Points to use when you call.
3.) How can I follow up?
When you call, please ask for the staffer’s email address so that you can email them:
- The Proposed Amendment to HB 4
- This list of Frequently Asked Questions
- This summary of Lessons Learned From Other States
Message to Ohio Judiciary Committee:
As a member organization of the Youth Ombudsman Campaign, I wanted to take a moment to share with you a copy of a letter that describes our hopes as it relates to House Bill 4. I hope you will take some time to read it prior to the hearing.
Our concern is that the current version of HB4 doesn’t reflect the vision laid out in this letter and that the proposed amendments miss the mark.
As HB4 moves through the committee, we want to remind you of Ohio youth’s key asks that will make this the most effective office to empower our youth and improve our child welfare system.
We created a strike-through document that clearly shows how HB4 can be amended so that it reflects this vision. We encourage you to compare this document to other amendments that are introduced before including them.