Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced on Twitter today that the state will prevent hundreds of youth from exiting the foster care system during the coronavirus outbreak.
“These changes will ensure that no child leaves care during this pandemic without a safe place to call home,” the governor tweeted.
DeWine, who has received high marks inside the state and nationally for Ohio’s handling of coronavirus, said that without the new measure, at least 200 youth would have faced an abrupt entry to adulthood at a time when the economy is largely shut down and people have been ordered to shelter in place.
“I want to thank the young people on Ohio’s Youth Advisory Board for coming up with this plan to help their brothers and sisters in foster care,” he said.
Ohio joins California, Illinois and Rhode Island as the first four states to guarantee that youth can remain in care past age 21 if they choose to during the pandemic and its related societal constraints. California earlier this week laid out plans to guarantee continued support through June 30.
Advocates have been pushing states for measures to prevent aging out. In a letter sent last month, Foster Care Alumni of America and the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare called on Gov. Larry Hogan (R-Md.), chair of the National Governors Association, to ask all governors to suspend emancipation proceedings for six months.
In most states, including Ohio, a large chunk of the cost for extended foster care is covered by the federal government. But the U.S. Children’s Bureau has said it cannot provide funding to cover state emergency extensions unless Congress includes authority for it in the next package of coronavirus legislation.