State funds set aside to help parents keep custody during kid’s crisis, were restricted and unused

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services is setting aside $3 million to help cover treatment and support services for children at risk of entering the justice or foster-care systems.

The one-time funding boost is being distributed through the state’s 50 alcohol, drug and mental health boards, and should be available starting March 1, the department said. Boards have until the end of the state fiscal year on June 30 to spend the money.

“I know it’s just a temporary shot in the arm, but I do feel like this is a new opportunity for families,” said Whitehall parent Mark Butler.

Butler is an advocate for families whose children have intensive behavioral-health needs, and he often shares his experience — chronicled three years ago in The Dispatch — trying to care for a teenager with severe autism, developmental disabilities and sometimes violent behavior. Butler and his wife wound up having to sign over their parental rights to Franklin County Children Services in order to obtain services for Andrew, now 20.

“Everyone, when they’re made aware of this kind of situation, agrees that it has to stop,” Butler said. “What was missing before was the willpower to get it done. Maybe now we’re seeing the emergence of that will.”  Read More:

February 15, 2019, The Columbus Dispatch