Springfield News-Sun: State Leaders Look To Reform Foster Care System
From the Springfield News-Sun, written by Jackie Borchardt
April 08, 2013
[ Peggy Lehner Home | Peggy Lehner Press ]

Sen. Peggy Lehner is sponsoring legislation to improve Ohio’s foster care system, based on recommendations released Monday from the state attorney general’s office.

The Kettering Republican said she’s heard from several foster parents who thought a child was returned prematurely to the birth parents and the changes she’s proposing are a start to reform.

“Every child deserves to belong to a loving, supportive family,” Lehner said. “Unfortunately, far too many of our children see that only as a dream that they hold silently in their hearts that they move from one family to another.”

The Foster Care Advisory Group, composed of attorneys, child welfare advocates and others involved in foster care services, recommended solutions to some of the concerns raised during a year’s worth of public meetings held across the state.

Recommendations include:

  • Limiting permanent foster care situations;
  • Allowing youth to be present at their court hearings if appropriate;
  • Clarifying when foster children can participate in normal childhood activities such as sleepovers.

Lehner’s bill would allow courts to terminate parental rights after three different court cases involving child maltreatment. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said the safety and best interests of the child should be the No. 1 priority ahead of placing a child back with his or her natural parents, according to federal law, but he’s not convinced the law is being followed.

“We have to say much earlier than we are saying today to those parents in name only… ‘your little child has got to grow up and that child needs stable and loving parents — this child can’t wait for you,’” DeWine said.

DeWine said 51 Ohio counties do not have a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) program, which uses highly trained volunteers who investigate foster cases to help determine the best interests of the children. DeWine said his office will provide an additional $2 million to expand the program and supported creating a new state pool of money to equalize disparity in child services funding among Ohio’s 88 counties. 

Ohio counties without local child services levies spend on average $108 per child compared to $368 per child in counties that have a levy, according to a report released last month by the Public Children Services Association of Ohio.

The organization suggested the state allocate $70 million over two years to help counties leverage their local dollars to improved child welfare services.

Featured Posts

PHOTO: Lehner Honored As Capital Caregiver 2017


COLUMBUS - State Senator Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) today received the Capital Caregiver 2017 award from AARP, a leading advocate for aging Ohioans. Lehner received the award as a result of her work on Senate Bill 314 (131st GA), also known as the Ohio Caregiving Act.


Chairwoman Lehner Concludes Hearings On Alianna Alert, Unanimously Passes Out Of Education Committee


COLUMBUS - State Senator Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering), Chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, this week announced the committee passage of Substitute Senate Bill 82, which requires each public school to place a telephone call within 120 minutes of the start of the school day to a parent whose child is absent without legitimate excuse.


Lehner Announces Capital Bill To Invest $2.62 Billion In Local Communities, Highlights Montgomery County


COLUMBUS—State Senator Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) announced the introduction of the state's Capital Budget, a $2.62 billion investment in Ohio's infrastructure and local community projects. 


Lehner Announces Opportunity For Young Professionals Interested In State Government


"Legislative fellows are given a unique opportunity to work side by side with legislators, policy stakeholders and other influential state leaders," said Lehner. "This is an invaluable experience, and for many fellows it opens the door to a lifelong career in public service."