Legislation has been announced in the House and Senate that would redesign requirements for certain foster care staff. State Representatives Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) and Sharon Ray (R-Wadsworth) introduced House Bill (HB) 442, and State Senator Louis Blessing III (R-Colerain Township) introduced companion legislation, Senate Bill (SB) 239, which would change the prerequisites for becoming a home assessor or treatment caseworker.
In Ohio’s foster care system, “professional treatment staff" are the direct service workers providing in-home supports to children in treatment foster homes, and Home Study Assessors evaluate families interesting in becoming foster care or adoptive caregivers.
“The challenges facing our foster care and behavioral health systems today require reconsideration of the licensure requirements for home assessors and professional treatment staff,” said Mark Mecum, Ohio Children’s Alliance CEO.
“Our state continues to maintain near record numbers of children entering foster care, while simultaneously facing a massive shortage of professionals in children services. This legislation is a powerful tool in closing this gap without sacrificing our rigorous quality standards.”
The companion bills would expand the current requirements for private agency treatment staff with the prerequisites already utilized by the same staff at public agencies. It would also expand the individuals eligible to perform the duties of a Home Assessor to include individuals with bachelor’s degrees in certain relevant human services fields related to children and families.
HB 442 and SB 239 will ensure that children can find safe and stable homes sooner, and will have the treatment support they need from qualified caseworkers.
“Our child welfare system needs to continue to adapt to meet the demand. We commend Representatives Ray and Stephens and Senator Blessing for responding to the needs of children and foster families across the state.” Mecum added.