ADAMHS Board Plans Small Pilot To Keep Kids Out of Foster Care

by Sarah Jane Tribble

Unlike some Cuyahoga County departments that had their funds cut under the latest budget plans, the board for Alcohol, Drug Addition, & Mental Health Services received full funding. In response, the ADAMHS board is spending some of its money on a pilot project that could help children stay out of foster homes. 

Generally, children are taken out of their homes if they're at risk of abuse or neglect by their parents or guardians. But those aren't the children targeted by the county's new pilot project, according to ADAMHS Board CEO Bill Denihan. 

DenihanCUT1: "This is not where the child is at risk by somebody within the home. This is where maybe the family is at risk by the child being at home, which is a little bit different." 

The family may be at risk because the child has a history of extensive mental health issues; or the child has had run ins with the law; or maybe they've already been placed in a foster home.  The new ADAMHS Board plan would identify those children and families and address their needs with specialized services such as mental health or drug addiction counseling.  

The idea, Denihan says, is to provide the necessary health and social services so that the children MIGHT be able to stay home or return home from foster care.  But there are a lot of unknowns.

"Who knows if the family is still in the picture, do they have enough bedrooms? Are they have drug problems or other problems that are not conducive to returning a child home," Denihan says. 

The pilot will start small by helping a group of about 60 kids currently in the system.  It's slated to start in January. 

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