Caring for kids costs the same

It takes a lot of money to properly raise children — provide for their needs, keep them safe and give them the best opportunities possible. According to a federal lawsuit, however, officials in Ohio believe it costs less for relatives to raise children placed in their care than for licensed foster caregivers to do it.

That’s a load of nonsense, of course. In fact, children placed in kinship care may very well have needs for which their relatives must turn to outside resources.

According to the lawsuit, one person involved is caring for a one-year-old boy in Cuyahoga County, and receiving $302 per month in state benefits under the current system. Licensed foster care parents in Cuyahoga County receive from $615 to $2,371 per month per child — and even more if children have special needs, the lawsuit said.

A ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has already ordered equality in payment in Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan and Ohio. Of those four, Ohio is the only state still not making the payments.

Kimberly Hall, director of Ohio’s human services agency, told The Associated Press in October 2019 the agency planned to increase such payments. Gov. Mike DeWine said in February he was close to releasing his plan on the issue.

None of that has happened.

“While foster parents make a choice and plan to become caregivers, kinship caregivers are often abruptly asked to make a dramatic, unexpected change in their life and take on a major new commitment,” said a Policy Matters Ohio report by budget researcher Will Petrik.

Readers will note both Hall and DeWine made their pledges before the COVID-19 pandemic had reached Ohio. Certainly they have had a lot on their minds since then. But making sure all Buckeye State kids are treated fairly by the state, and have opportunities for the same resources and support, is essential. It would take a few phone calls, a couple of executive orders –maybe a little cooperation from lawmakers.

There is no excuse for that not to happen. Now.


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