At last week’s Highland County Board of Commissioners meeting, local Job and Family Services Director Katie Smith said that 190 children were now in foster care, along with 37 who were in agency custody awaiting permanent adoption.
She added that the agency was experiencing delays in adoption processing due to recent court closures because of the pandemic.
“This is not due to Highland County Juvenile Court being delayed or closed,” she stressed in an email to The Times-Gazette. “When a family chooses to adopt a child, the family can do so in the county that they reside in. Sometimes families will come back to our county to finalize the adoption, but sometimes they choose to finalize in the county they reside. That is the family’s choice. We have children placed all over the state and there are several courts throughout Ohio that have not reopened. The delay I was referring to was not an issue we have experienced with our local courts.”
To assist in the state’s adoption effort, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services foster care and adoption website now includes profiles of children in foster care who are waiting to be adopted, which includes their first names and ages, as well as hobbies, strengths and activities that reflect their personality and interests.
“Ohio has more than 16,000 children in foster care, and more than 3,000 of them are awaiting safe, loving and permanent homes,” ODJFS Director Kimberly Hall said. “All children need and deserve forever families, and we hope this addition to our website will help achieve that for more of them.”
Most children in foster care return to their birth parents or another relative or family friend within a year, but sometimes it takes longer.
When a court determines that returning home or to a relative is not in the child’s best interest, then the court may terminate parental rights, and the Children Services agency will move forward with finding a permanent home for the child.
In most cases, the best permanent option is adoption, Smith said.
The website features information for prospective adoptive families, as well as an interactive map that can link them to local agencies that can help them decide if adoption is right for their family.
County Children Services agencies can upload children’s profiles into a portal for ODJFS staff to review and post to the website.
The listing is located at FosterAndAdopt.jfs.ohio.gov/profiles.
If families are interested in learning more about a child after reading their profile, they can forward their information to the child’s caseworker through the website.
Those interested in learning more about adoption should visit FosterAndAdopt.jfs.ohio.gov.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.