As an update, we held a successful meeting with Representatives Susan Manchester and Phil Plummer on December 1, 2021 and are delighted to share that they have agreed to amend House Bill 4 to include the three revisions requested by Ohio foster care youth. Please see page 27-28 of Amendment #134-2057-02.
We are committed to support House Bill 4 as it makes its way through the Ohio Senate if these three changes are included. Lisa Dickson explained our rationale for insisting on the three provisions that Ohio youth requested. We look forward to partnering with ODJFS and the Office of the Governor during the implementation phase.
Legislative Testimony regarding HB 4:
- Juliana Barton, ACTION Ohio
- Todd Brooklyn, OHIO YAB
- Kim Eckhart, CDF-Ohio
- Kristi Burre, Governor’s Children’s Initiative
In his prior role as Attorney General, Governor Mike DeWine was a staunch advocate for foster care youth and alumni. He recognized that abused children and teens are ‘victims of crime, and thus under the purview of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. He held a series of Child Safety Summits, and made sure that current and former foster youth had a voice in each of them. He even hired a former foster youth to serve as his Director of Children’s initiatives.
Therefore, it was not surprising that one of Governor Mike DeWine’s campaign promises was the establishment of a Foster Care Ombudsman’s Office. He established a Children’s Services Transformation Council, and directed them to host a series of listening tours. During these Foster Care Forums, Ohio foster care youth and alumni repeatedly mentioned the future Ombudsman’s Office in our testimonies, and recommended that this future office to be specifically for youth, and able to operate independently.
Legislative Testimony that we provided in 2021 regarding HB 110:
- Deanna Jones addressed the loss of Ma’Khia Bryant and how a Youth Ombudsman Office could have helped
- Juliana Barton shared the many times the system failed to remove her from her abusive biological home
- Nikki Chinn spoke to the need for Youth Ombudsman Office to address concerns from youth in congregate care
- Jermaine Ferguson addressed the positive intentions of HB 4 and the need for more robust language
- Lisa Dickson‘s testimony shared the FAQs regarding the Youth Ombudsman Office
- Charmion Janaé shared how a Youth Ombudsman Office would have saved her sister’s life
Our ongoing communication regarding this includes:
- Email and phone call correspondence dating back to August of 2018
- A series of meetings with staff members, beginning in January 2019
- The creation of a Legislative Brief
- On April 11, 2020, we wrote an Open Letter to Governor Mike DeWine
- On May 14, 2021, the OHIO YAB leadership team sent a letter to Governor DeWine
- On June 18, 2021, the OHIO YAB sent a second letter to Governor DeWine
- On July 21, 2021, the OHIO YAB participated in a roundtable with Governor DeWine.
- On Jan. 4, 2022, the OHIO YAB, ACTION Ohio and CDF-Ohio met with ODJFS to discuss the experience, education and characteristics of the future Youth Ombudsman
- During the months of December 2021 and January 2022, the OHIO YAB and ACTION Ohio held a series of focus groups to map out the Youth Ombudsman Interview Rubric
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.
When an amendment was added to House Bill 4 to establish a Children Services Ombudsman Office, we reached out to ask that revisions be made. The language on the left, in blue, reflects what youth requested:
We held an initial Interested Party meeting with Representative Manchester on August 18, 2021, and reached out afterwards to share this strike-through document. We followed up with a sign on letter and a follow-up meeting on December 1, 2021. We are delighted and deeply appreciative that Representative Manchester has agreed to amend House Bill 4 to include the revisions that Ohio foster youth have requested: