COLUMBUS— State Senator Bill Coley
(R-Liberty Township) today announced the Senate Passage of Substitute Senate Bill 6, which will set guidelines for charitable organizations such as Safe Families for Children
to continue to provide their services in Ohio.
Joint-sponsored by Majority Whip Jay Hottinger
(R-Newark), the organization is widely seen as an alternative to foster care and a better way to keep families intact.
The Safe Families program allows a parent in a crisis situation to temporarily request that their children be hosted by a fully screened and vetted "host family" for an agreed-to period of time. Under current law, some states have questioned its legality and have blurred the lines between foster care and the Safe Families program.
"Strong families equal strong communities which makes for a stronger Ohio. An important piece of that is giving children every chance to stay with their biological parents, even though the parents may fall on tough times," said Coley. "Clarifying in the law that programs like Safe Families are legal, temporary alternatives to foster care is an important step toward more united families in Ohio. Having worked on this issue since the 131st General Assembly, I am proud to join my colleagues in voting 'yes' today on this important piece of legislation."
Circumstances that may qualify a family to become a part of the program are military service, temporary incapacitation, incarceration, medical and mental health treatment or other similar temporary circumstances that may prevent a family from taking adequate care of a child for a period of time.
“Senate Bill 6 establishes guidelines that will help families in crisis get back on track by allowing parents to proactively and voluntarily choose to have a host family care for their child,” said Hottinger. “This legislation will ensure that more Ohio children and their parents are given opportunities for healing and a second chance."
During the committee process, the Health and Human Services Committee agreed to adopt a number of clarifying and technical changes prior to the full Senate passage. For example, the substitute bill clarifies that a child's parent, guardian, legal custodian, host family or the qualified organization that arranged the host family agreement is responsible to requesting any extension to the original agreement.
Additionally, provisions were added that give additional guidance for the requirement for in-home supervision of a child who is staying with a host family.
For more information on Senate Bill 6, please contact Senator Coley's office at (614) 466-8072, email Coley@OhioSenate.gov
or visit the Ohio Legislature's website by clicking here