Without opposition, House passes bill to improve foster care capacity

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A bill aimed at streamlining state foster care training in hopes of increasing capacity of an overburdened system passed the Ohio House unanimously Thursday.

Foster care needs have increased 25% in recent years, largely because of Ohio’s opioid epidemic, and addressing the shortage of caregivers is long overdue, said Rep. Susan Manchester, R-Lakeview, a prime sponsor of House Bill 8.

“This bill will ensure more qualified parents are equipped to lend helping hands to our kids in the foster care system,” she said.

Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, said the foster care system is experiencing unprecedented strain.

“We’ve done a lot to help those suffering from addiction,” he said. “It’s important that we help those impacted by this addiction crisis, especially children.”

Rep. Nino Vitale, R-Urbana, said he got trained eight years ago and has since hosted four foster kids. He said two features of the bill are “absolutely fantastic”: giving the state flexibility in how hours are calculated and how someone can become a foster parent, and the ability to do training online.

The bill was one of more than a dozen priority, bipartisan bills introduced in recent weeks by House Republican and Democratic leadership.

Another of those priority bills, House Bill 4, which seeks to improve the process for creating workforce certificate programs, also passed unanimously Thursday.

Under the bill, businesses that identify the need for a new job training certificate program would work directly with the governor’s new Office of Workforce Transformation, which would vet the proposal and work with state education officials to develop necessary curriculum, standards and materials.

Both bills now go to the Senate.

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