Ohio’s Foster Care System Sees Additional Strain Under Coronavirus Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic is putting additional stress on Ohio’s already-strained foster care system, with virus concerns stalling licensing for potential foster parents and the possibility that even more children need homes in the near future.

Foster care systems around the state were already struggling to meet the need for foster families prior to the pandemic, thanks in part to stressors like the opioid crisis. That includes Medina County, where officials were in the middle of training new potential foster families when the virus began to spread.

About 24 families made it halfway through the training process before the county had to put it on hold, said Medina County Jobs and Family Services Director Jeff Felton.

“Halfway through, maybe a little over halfway through, that tells me they’re going to finish out the training, they’re committed to doing it,” Felton said. “And then to have that plug pulled kind of in the middle of everything is just kind of frustrating.”

The 100 children in the county’s care have been placed, Felton said, some with licensed foster families and many sibling groups with relatives. But there is the potential for an influx of new referrals needing placement soon, Felton said.

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