Gov. DeWine unveils recommendations to transform Children’s Services

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — On Friday, Governor Mike DeWine will release the Children Services Transformation Advisory Council’s Final Report. This report includes 37 recommendations on reforming the state’s children services system.

“Too many of these youth will experience homelessness and other poor outcomes that will limit their success,” DeWine said.

After hearing from officials and foster care youth the Children Services Transformation Advisory Council announced that the recommendations for reform of the system were based on seven categories, prevention, workforce, practice, kinship, foster care, adoption, and juvenile justice.

The director of the council said prevention is about supporting families where they are. “We need a strong focus on supporting family members, parents in their own communities making sure they have the right services and support to help them so children’s services don’t even have to be involved,” said Kristi Burre, Director of Children Services Transformation, ODJFS.

In the workforce, the recommendations are all about working with colleges and universities to prepare future caseworkers. “Once they’re in the system making sure that we’re reducing organizational red tape and duplicate work that keeps caseworkers away from doing the work we really need them to do out in the field,” Burre said.

It also supports strengthening permanency to keep youth from aging out of the system without a permanent family. Nearly 1,000 children age out of the system every year. “Having been adopted around my 18th birthday, I know how important it is to have a family to make that successful transition into adulthood,” said Melinda Haggerty, General Council and SVP of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

The governor acknowledged that the case of 10-year-old Takoda Collins in Montgomery County made an impact on the final report. “What was going on in Dayton certainly has had an impact on me. We just have to do better for these kids,” he said.

In Takoda Collins’ case, there were several instances of people reporting concerns that Collins was being abused. The new report elevates the focus to improve how children’s services handle those reports.

“We’re going to take a deeper look at the front door of our agency. We’ll take a deeper look at the hotlines where people are initially calling in reporting reports of concerns for maltreatment, both from mandated reporters and from the general public. And that opens the door for us to really scrutinize that process,” Burre said.

The recommendations also reinforce Montgomery County’s goal to improve communication between children’s services, law enforcement, and the courts.

“I truly believe that if we implement these 37 recommendations, many more children will have a shot at living their American dream,” said DeWine.

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