In 2017, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals determined in D.O. vs. Glisson that children placed with approved, unlicensed relatives were eligible for federal foster payments on the same basis as children placed in licensed foster homes. The Sixth Circuit has jurisdiction over six states of which Ohio is included. As we have reported, since the ruling, Ohio has not come into compliance and a new kinship lawsuit was filed against the state in November.
When a child must be removed from his or her home, caseworkers first try to place the child with a family member or close family friend. However, once that placement is made, the child becomes ineligible for foster care payments. According to a recent factsheet from ODJFS, "it is estimated that nearly 9 percent of all children in Ohio are being raised by kinship caregivers."
Before its passage, an amendment was added to SB 310, a capital spending bill to pay for state and local building projects. The amendment, drafted by ODJFS, would establish a “Kinship Support Program” which would provide financial payments to unlicensed kinship caregivers who have received placement of a child.
Representative Oelslager, who introduced the amendment, said it would increase the per-day rate to $10.20 "with an annual cost-of-living adjustment" and that there is money in the ODFJS budget to cover the cost of the increase. Concerns remain about the continued sustainability of ODJFS dollars to ensure future payments.