Columbus, Ohio: Today, Groundwork Ohio commends the Children Services Transformation Advisory Council for including prenatal-to-three prevention strategies in its final report and recommendations to address the gaps and barriers in the state’s child welfare system. In Ohio, 0-3-year olds are overrepresented in the child welfare system, making up 29% of all children who are in state custody. Due to the rapid period of brain development that occurs in the first three years of life, engagement in the child welfare system can have long-lasting consequences.
“When a young child is engaged in the child welfare system and separated from their caregivers, this experience can have a profound effect on their development,” said Shannon Jones, Executive Director of Groundwork Ohio. “By intervening early when a young child first enters the child welfare system and addressing the complex needs of families, we can prevent children from reentering the system later on and strengthen the relationships between the children and their caregivers.”
One of the 37 recommendations provided within the report aims to “enhance prenatal-to-three prevention and early intervention efforts across Ohio’s many child-serving systems. This should include the identification of barriers and efficiencies to increase enrollment, improve service delivery, and better coordinate care.”
In August 2020, Groundwork Ohio and Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio announced a unique partnership to improve outcomes for Ohio infants, toddlers, and their families who are engaged in the child welfare system. This partnership supports creation of a Safe Babies Court TeamTM approach in Cuyahoga, Montgomery, and Scioto Counties under the leadership of Judge Kristin Sweeney, Judge Helen Wallace, and Judge Alan Lemons respectively, over the course of a year. Over the past few years, this approach has been underway in Lucas County’s Healthy Baby Court under the leadership of Judge Denise Navarre Cubbon. To read the August press release on the Safe Babies Court TeamTM approach and this partnership, click here.
Groundwork Ohio is a committed, nonpartisan public-policy research and advocacy organization formed in 2004 that champions high-quality early learning and healthy development strategies from the prenatal period to age five, that lay a strong foundation for Ohio kids, families and communities.