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Wednesday, May 11, 2011
November is National Adoption Month
Each year, thousands of children across the United States and here in Ohio are waiting to find a good home with a loving family willing to provide them with the support and care they so desperately deserve. To help promote awareness of the need for adoptive families, November has been designated as National Adoption Awareness Month.
Throughout this month, activities will be held in communities around the state that seek to encourage and connect potential adoptive and foster parents with waiting children. Here in the Ohio General Assembly, my colleagues and I also recognize the need to increase the number of adoptions in our state, which currently stands at roughly 1,900 each year. To that end, we have passed several bills designed to make the adoption process easier and more affordable for families.
Last year, we approved House Bill 7, which encourages adoption agencies to approach adoption with a focus on the best interests of the child, including considering family members and friends when recruiting potential adoptive parents. The bill also reduces duplicative paperwork and training, and will allow families participating in a private adoption to pay the birth mother’s living expenses during the pregnancy and up to two months after the birth.
Whether a family uses a public or private agency to complete an adoption, the costs can be substantial. Some adoptions may only cost a few thousand dollars, while international or private adoptions can cost more than $30,000. I was pleased to be a co-sponsor of a bill that increased the adoption tax credit in Ohio from $500 to $1,500. This credit is in addition to any federal adoption tax credits the family may be eligible to receive and will help encourage more families to consider opening their home to a child in need of their love and support.
Although a great deal of effort has been made in recent years to increase the number of adoptions, we also need to encourage more people to become foster parents. These individuals play a critical role in the lives of children whose parents or guardians are unable to care for them, providing them with the support and care they need until they can be reunited with their families or placed in a permanent home.
Legislators have also worked in recent years to reform our state’s foster care system and ensure foster children are placed in safe and stable homes. That is why the Legislature has passed bills in the last year that provide added protections for children in foster care, improved cooperation among government agencies to prevent children from being placed in dangerous homes and more information to public service agencies, better enabling them to remove a child should problems develop. The legislation also helps ensure agencies are better equipped to identify a child’s specific needs prior to placement and that prospective foster parents have the training they need to meet those needs.
In addition, we have also passed measures that expand the list of offenses that would prevent an individual from becoming a foster or adoptive parent and require potential foster parents to submit to an FBI background check prior to becoming certified and again when they apply for renewal. This will catch any transgressions that occur between the two applications. These changes will help strengthen the training and services available to foster parents while also keeping children safe.
If you would like more information about becoming a foster or adoptive parent, please contact the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services by calling 1-866-886-3537 and selecting option 4 or going online to www.jfs.ohio.gov/oapl. You can also contact the Warren County Children’s Services Bureau at by phone (513) 695-1546 or online by visiting www.co.warren.oh.us/
childrenservices, as well as the Hamilton County Department of Jobs and Family Services at (513) 946-1000 or www.hcjfs.hamilton-co.org.
Our children are one of our most precious resources and need good homes with loving parents to nurture and care for them. By promoting the need for adoptive and foster parents and making the adoption process easier for families, we can give more children the opportunity to find a safe and loving permanent home.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if you have questions or concerns about any state-related matter. You can reach my office by phone at (614) 466-9737, by e-mail at SD07@senate.state.oh.us or by writing State Senator Shannon Jones, Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 43215. I look forward to hearing from you.