Two Ohio state lawmakers, Senators Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Tina Maharath (D-Canal Winchester), introduced a bill on Friday to create the Foster Youth Bill of Rights.
The potential law, if enacted, would inform individuals in the foster care system of their rights when they are placed in custody of the state.
“Growing up in the foster care system is never easy for a child,” said Senator Maharath, who spent time as a child in the foster care system. “However, I believe that we, as a state, have an obligation to make the process as positive as possible for foster youth and ensure that their fundamental rights are not violated. This is at the heart of this legislation.”
Proponents argue the legislation is needed to help prevent foster youth from further abuse.
“Foster children’s lack of stability and support can make them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation,” Senator Fedor said. “By providing foster youth with the proper knowledge and resources, we will help make them less susceptible to traffickers who prey on the unmet needs of others. The rights outlined in this bill are a foundation we can build on to best prepare foster youth for success.”
Several states have enacted related legislation.
Similarly, legislators have introduced a bill, House Bill 4, to create greater oversight for the state’s children and family services and hold them legally accountable for collaborating with police on child abuse cases.
H.B. 4 passed the House of Representatives earlier this year and is waiting for consideration in the Senate.
“We believe having more people collaboratively working on the case can help improve the outcome for the child,” said State Representative Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield), a sponsor of the bill. “This bill provides another layer of protection for our youth at-risk.”
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