Launched in January 2014, Ohio Fostering Connections is a coalition of advocates, child welfare professionals and youth working together to extend support to foster youth through age 21. Extensive research shows youth who remain in care through age 21 have improved outcomes compared to those who leave care at 18, including reduced likelihood of early pregnancy or homelessness and increased chances to be working or in school.
On January 30, the Ohio General Assembly introduced HB 423, bipartisan legislation to extend support to foster youth through age 21. 26 other states across the country have already extended services to youth through age 21. The bill’s primary sponsors are State Representative Zack Milkovich (D-Akron) and State Representative Lynn Watchmann (R-Napoleon). Both The Columbus Dispatch and The Plain Dealer have endorsed the notion of extending foster care to 21 and fostering better connections and supports for these older youth.
Schubert Center Policy Director Gabriella Celeste is a member of the Ohio Fostering Connections task force.