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WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio | Columbus News, Weather & Sports |

'A sigh of relief:' Advocates applaud Ohio's governor for providing safety net for those aging out of foster care

According to Mike DeWine, more than 200 people will “age out” of Ohio’s foster care system in the next three months.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Youth advocates are breathing a sigh of relief after Ohio's governor announced the state will cover the costs of those aging out of the foster care system.

On Friday, Gov. Mike DeWine made the announcement. The state will allow those turning 18 during the COVID-19 pandemic to stay in foster care. According to DeWine, more than 200 people will “age out” of Ohio’s foster care system in the next three months.

“For many of these young people, their future looks uncertain because of COVID-19, whether their plan was to start a career or pursue higher education. This program will provide them with a safety net during these difficult times,” DeWine said.

This option is also available for those in the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services’ Bridges program, which provides foster care to age 21. DeWine said those in Bridges can stay in the program to help them maintain their housing, jobs, and education.

“These changes will ensure that no child leaves care during this pandemic without a safe place to call home. I encourage county children services agencies, juvenile courts, and the foster youth themselves to take advantage of this new opportunity,” he said.

During his daily briefing, DeWine thanked OHIO Youth Advisory Board for coming up with this plan.

10TV interviewed Talia Holmes, president of the FCCS Youth Advisory Board. She knows firsthand what it's like to be in foster care.

"You're always having to worry about making sure you're presenting yourself in the best way, so the person you're with wants to keep you," Holmes said. "[You want to make sure] you're not put into another situation that may not be as good as the one you may be leaving from."

Holmes said this is a step to ensure Ohio's most vulnerable are set up for success. "It's providing them that extra leverage to be able to make steps securely so that they are able to be successful in society," she said.

For those who work to provide care for young people in the system, the news is a relief to them too.

"We were so nervous we would have to say, 'No we're done. We can't serve you anymore.' Now, we don't have to do that," said Kim Miller from Buckeye Ranch.

Buckeye Ranch is a nonprofit that provides mental health resources, foster care, and transitional-age housing, among other things. Miller said the announcement will buy them time to follow through with their commitment to these young adults.

"Let's find the right apartment. Let's find the right job for you and make sure you're successful," Miller said.

For additional foster care resources, click here.