Supreme Court ruling could affect PC JFS financially

By Kelsey Kimbler -

EATON — Preble County Job and Families Services may be forced to increase payments to kinship providers who are caring for their relatives’ children.

During the Preble County Board of Commissioners meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 30, Job and Family Services Director Becky Sorrell informed the board that due to a 2017 federal appeals court ruling, all Ohio departments may be required to increase pay to kinship providers who are related to the children they are caring for.

This ruling only applies to kinship providers who are blood-related to the children in their custody. For example, if a family friend is caring for a child, they will not be eligible for additional pay.

According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Kinship Care refers to a temporary or permanent arrangement in which a relative or any non-relative adult who has a long-standing relationship or bond with the child and/or family, has taken over the full-time, substitute care of a child whose parents are unable or unwilling to do so. Kinship Care includes those relationships established through an informal arrangement, legal custody or guardianship order, a relative foster care placement or kinship adoption.

Kinship care represents the most desirable out-of-home placement option for children who cannot live with their parents. It offers the greatest level of stability by allowing children to maintain their sense of belonging and enhances their ability to identify with their family’s culture and traditions.

According to the Associated Press, Kimberly Hall, Director of Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, said the state is working on designing a program to address a 2017 federal appeals court ruling to increase payments to relatives caring for children.

This decision was made to help relatives, such as grandparents or aunts and uncles, who have been unexpectedly asked to care for children they are related to. This ruling will address the difference in pay between licensed foster care providers and kinship providers.

According to Preble County Director Sorrell, Preble County does not pay relative or non-relative kinship providers any regular payments for care of children in agency custody. Relatives or non-relatives with custody of a child are eligible for OWF based on the child only income. OWF payments are $297 for a child-only case. Preble County has 162 child-only cases.

Foster placement per diem’s range very broadly. Preble County locally-licensed foster families receive $30 per day for children ages 0-12 and $40 per day for children ages 13-17-plus. Preble County has used group homes or residential treatment facilities for children with very difficult behavioral or mental health concerns which have reached $400 per day. The year-to-date average cost-per-day for children in Preble County Children Services’ custody is $70.85.

During the meeting on Monday, Oct. 30, Sorrell said, “There has been discussion that kinship people who are related by blood to children that Children Services places in their care be paid the same as licensed foster parents. [The State of Ohio] had a couple years to come in to compliance with the decision of the Supreme Court.

“I looked through our report yesterday and tried to figure out who would qualify for those payments. We currently have children placed in 20 homes that would qualify for those payments. That is going to be a significant number for our budget, if that plays out. It is not real clear whether the State will take it over and pay it or whether it will fall back on local funds to pay that.”

She added, she had a legislative committee meeting the next day to attend, where she hoped more information would be shared.

In other business, Sorrell reported:

•The number of cases and children in Children Services’ care is increasing.

•There has been an increase in children with “extreme” behavioral issues and mental health needs.

By Kelsey Kimbler

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH