The most important piece of legislation passed during each Ohio General Assembly is the biennial budget, which affects every Ohioan from newborns to senior citizens. It serves as the cornerstone of funding for the great state we all call home. The recently enacted budget is the most child-focused budget I have seen in my 25 years of serving in the legislature. I had the privilege of sponsoring several amendments to the budget that will go a long way in helping Ohio families most in need.
Senate Bill 6, legislation I sponsored, was amended into the budget so that charitable host family programs like Safe Families for Children can operate in Ohio. These programs help families in a crisis situation by allowing parents to request that their children be hosted by a fully screened host family for a specific, limited period of time. The host family provides a safe, temporary place for the children to stay and gives parents peace of mind so they can focus on getting back on their feet.
There are approximately 200,000 children in Ohio living with grandparents, most in low income families. I was able to help restore $15 million a year for the Kinship Care Program and $3.5 million per year for the Kinship Navigator Program. This funding helps low income relatives care for children when the parents are unable or incapable of caring for their child, and it ensures children can live in a stable environment with caring relatives.
Some families have been forced to make the heart-wrenching decision to give up custody of children in order for them to obtain treatment. For this reason, I worked to include $18 million over the biennium to help families of multi-system youth obtain needed services for their children and avoid being forced into custody relinquishment.
Several of my amendments were focused on helping communities better serve children. For the Boys and Girls Clubs funding was increased by $1 million a year. In addition, I was able to secure $500,000 per year for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio. I believe that both of these amendments will allow more youth to be served by community programs and reach their full potential.
Education was another priority of mine. I helped secure $10 million over the biennium for Quality Infrastructure Grants to assist Step Up to Quality for low income child care and early learning centers. To assist rapidly growing school districts, I added an increase to foundation funding of $15.5 million in the first year and $23 million in the second year. I was also able to help make college more affordable for families by adding amendments to allow more flexibility for Choose Ohio First college grants and increase the state Share of Instruction by $20 million a year, putting us at record funding for higher education in Ohio.
I believe the two most important foundational issues needed for families and at-risk kids is stable housing and food security. As such, I am very grateful my amendments for the Ohio Housing Trust Fund and Ohio Food Banks were included in the budget. An increase in recording fees will provide an estimated $3 million more a year to provide homeless programming, home improvements for low income seniors and vets, and develop more affordable rental housing. An additional $5 million a year was allocated to food banks.
Through these initiatives that I sponsored, as well as other important measures, it was a very successful budget process that will go a long way to help Ohio families.