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Report: Ohio foster care outcomes some of the worst in the nation

Report: Ohio foster care outcomes some of the worst in the nation (WKRC file)
Report: Ohio foster care outcomes some of the worst in the nation (WKRC file)
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CINCINNATI (WKRC)- A new report shows Ohio has a long way to go in making sure children who age out of the foster care system are successful.

The report says Ohio's foster care children have some of the worst outcomes in the nation by the time they reach 21.

The metrics include whether they graduated high school, went to college, had a job, or had been in jail. Ohio was lagging behind the rest of the country in all areas.

Deanna Jones spent several stints in foster care growing up.

She says no part of foster care is easy, but says no one from the state advocated for her.

"Being in a foster home where we weren't allowed to sit on the furniture and we were treated and reminded constantly that we were foster children, and there was really no one [from the state] that really took stock of the situation and asked us those questions," Jones said.

Jones now works with foster kids, and says not much has changed in the two decades since she was in the system.

Children's Defense Fund-Ohio looked at data from the US Office of the Administration for Children and Families. It surveyed foster care children when they reached 21 years old.

Only 60 percent of those who responded say they earned a high school diploma or a GED, 46 percent say they've had a job, just over one in ten had gone to college, and nearly four out of ten had spent time in jail.

Those outcomes are even worse for minorities.

By every one of those metrics, Ohio ranks in the bottom 10 percent of the country.

Children's Defense Fund-Ohio is pushing for surveys to be sent to all kids in foster care to allow them to report any mistreatment.

The survey would be conducted once every few months to make sure foster children are being heard.

"If youth know about their rights, if they know about this hotline, they can call in the event that their rights have been violated and they've been unable to get those concerns addressed through other channels," said the organization's manager, Kim Ekhart. "We will really be able to push this forward."

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Ohio has a newly-created state office to listen to and advocate for children. It opens at the end of May. Workers in the office will investigate and attempt to resolve complaints related to government services regarding child protective services, foster care, and adoption.

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