CLEVELAND - Ohio has some of the lowest funding for child protective services in the United States. Funding dropped off during the recession and never bounced back.
The repercussions of this state’s heroin epidemic are being seen in courtrooms, “Those of us that have this docket are finding that we’re being overwhelmed and it is getting harder and harder to get the cases in in a timely fashion,” said Nancy McMillen, a Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Magistrate.
It’s an epidemic that we’re all paying for, “Our community has so many resources that we are putting forward to address the heroin epidemic,” said Linda Johanek, the CEO of the Domestic Violence, Child Advocacy Center.
The heroin crisis is taking its toll on the court system and Ohio’s Department of Child Protective Services.
According to one organization, the state isn’t doing enough to help.
We've learned Ohio funds county Child Protective Services at the lowest level of any state in the US - 9 cents on every dollar @WEWSpic.twitter.com/ZmY6nfZ7xX
“Since 2009, the state of Ohio has reduced the investment it makes in Child Protective Services by 17%,” said Scott Britton, the Assistant Director of the Ohio Public Children Services Association.
Here’s how Child Protective Services is funded in Ohio:
39 cents of every dollar comes from the federal government.
52 cents of every dollar comes from local investment.
And just 9 cents of every dollar comes from Columbus.
Meanwhile, CPS case workers are overrun. Many with far more cases than the state recommended maximum of 12.
“The next logical step is to really look at these invisible victims of the epidemic who are the children coming into our system when their parents cannot parent them,” said Britton.
Ohio is seeing a record number of new children entering the juvenile justice system, their parents tied to the state’s growing heroin epidemic. The question now will the state help take care of this epidemic’s youngest victims?
Some state lawmakers are already calling for an increase in CPS funding. 2017 is a state budget year.
We received this statement from State Senator Kenny Yuko who represents a portion of Cuyahoga County:
“The effects of the opioid epidemic are far-reaching, and continue to threaten the futures of our families and children. Addiction has forced many of Ohio's children into foster care and other child protection services. While our local governments and local taxpayers are already stretched thin, the state has the money and the power to help child protective services assist these families through high needs situations. I hope that during the next budget, affected agencies will make clear to every legislator how much funding they need and how many lives are on the line. We can’t afford to shortchange so many bright futures.”