Ohio Statehouse

Children with autism looking for crisis support in Ohio’s Budget

Budget offers hope for Ohio’s multi-system youth and their families

July 8, 2019, The Center for Community Solutions, Press Release

Parents and advocates have worked for five years to abolish forced custody relinquishment of multi-system youth in Ohio, and we are hopeful that, due to broad bipartisan support, this budget will bring an end to this heartbreaking practice.

No one can better explain the heartbreak of a forced custody relinquishment than a parent who has had to make that choice.

The term multi-system youth refers to children and teenagers with complex behavioral, physical and developmental needs that require the assistance of multiple agencies. Sometimes the needs of these young people are so profound that they require services, like out-of-home residential treatment, that are not funded by private insurance or Medicaid. This forces parents to make the heart-wrenching decision to relinquish custody of their children to gain access to critical care.

One of those parents is Whitehall resident Mark Butler. His son Andrew has behavioral issues related to severe autism, mental illness and an intellectual disability. Butler was forced to surrender custody so Andrew could access residential treatment. “For many years, families like mine suffered alone and in silence. It feels like someone has finally heard us,” Butler said. “I now have hope that the state cares about children like Andrew and has found the resolve to address this issue.”

Butler went on to cite the contributions of Governor Mike DeWine, Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford), Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron), Rep. Mark Romanchuk (R-Ontario), Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton), Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina), Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) and the Senate Finance Committee. He also thanked Rep. Scott Lipps (R-Franklin) and Senator Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) for being “champions of multi-system youth in their respective chambers.”…….Link to Full Press Release