Right now, families and young people are dealing with unprecedented financial stress, social isolation, and abrupt changes to daily life. Child welfare agencies are worried about devastating cuts to their already limited funding, as Ohio and states all over the country face severe budget shortfalls, and Leader McConnell and President Trump refuse to help.
We can’t allow children and young people in foster care to fall through the cracks during this pandemic.
That’s why I introduced the Child Welfare Emergency Assistance Act, to provide flexible, emergency aid for key child welfare programs, and ensure they have the resources they need to continue protecting and supporting families during this public health crisis.
This bill would dedicate new, flexible funding for state and tribal child welfare agencies, including $30 million for kinship navigator programs.
In Ohio, many grandparents and other family members are raising children. These families faced unique challenges before this pandemic – and now the public health crisis is only making it harder. Grandparents, who are often some of the most at-risk for the virus, are facing impossible choices as they try to balance taking care of their own health with taking care of their grandchildren. Kinship navigators and other kinship care programs provide critical support for these families.
Our bill would also help states implement plans to ensure children in foster care are up-to-date on vaccinations and have access to health care and telemedicine services. And it would establish a moratorium on “aging out” of foster care during this pandemic. Young Ohioans should not be cut off from critical housing and support services right now.
We’re in the middle of a crisis unlike anything we’ve ever lived through. Leader McConnell needs to let the Senate act to get resources to the Ohioans who need it, including the agencies and organizations who support our most vulnerable children and families.
Democrat Sherrod Brown represents Ohio in the U.S. Senate.