Gov. Mike DeWine has signed an executive order that establishes an advisory council that will come up with suggestions for how to make it work better for foster families.
The issue is personal for his administration: Lt. Gov. Jon Husted spent some time in Ohio’s foster care system.
“I started out my life in foster care and was blessed to be adopted by wonderful parents who gave me a great, loving environment to grow up in," Husted says.
But DeWine says many foster care kids are not as lucky, especially now that the opioid crisis has increased caseloads significantly. His executive order creates a panel that will meet across the state and make recommendations for overhauling Ohio’s foster care system
DeWine placed foster care leaders, parents and alums of the system on the panel, which will hold forums to hear about problems and possible solutions.
One member is Julianna Barton, a student at Columbus State Community College. As a child, Barton was abused, and says she found the foster care system unforgiving and unwelcoming – no better than her home. Eventually, she aged out of the system and dropped out of high school in her senior year.
“I was scared, that I wasn’t ready. I didn’t even know how to do simple things like balance a checkbook or learn how to drive a car," Barton says.
Barton says she looks forward to being on the panel. The new advisory council will hold seven meetings throughout the state before the end of this year.