Monday, August 10, 2009

Early emancipation of foster teens as a cost-saving measure??

I recently received reports from social workers that some counties are trying to cut costs through premature emancipation of Ohio teenagers.

Just yesterday, I presented a workshop on Strategic Sharing for homeless youth during a statewide retreat - and over half of the youth in attendance had been in foster care.

I've been contacted by young people in Cuyahoga County saying that their case had been "terminated" prematurely since the budget cuts were announced, and that the reason they were given was noncompliance with their case plan.

At a time when our nation is moving forward in terms of federal matching dollars for extending foster care to age 21, and making measuring outcomes of youth "aging out" of foster care a federal priority, Ohio seems to be moving backward and not forward in this area.

Ohio foster youth are entering into adulthood during a recession. Any decision to close their case should be made based upon their readiness to face that world - not based on cost savings for the agency, or convenience in not having to deal with that particular teenager.

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