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House passes foster children scholarship plan

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(The Center Square) – The Ohio House of Representatives wants to spend $15 million over the next two years to give college scholarships to foster children.

The bipartisan legislation would spend $7.5 million in fiscal years 2024 and 2025 to give scholarships to children placed in foster care or kinship after turning 13 to attend either a public or private college or university in the state.

The money, which will come from the state’s General Fund, would cover the cost of attendance after other grants and scholarships are used.

“The impact of this bill cannot be understated,” said Rep. Dontavius Jarrells, D-Columbus, said. “Providing this opportunity for our young people, especially those who come from a foster care background, will be a monumental support for these kids’ futures. I cannot wait to see how many lives will be impacted by this legislation.”

According to figures from the Children’s Defense Fund and the Kids Count Databooks, Ohio is in the bottom 10% of states in the nation when it comes to the likelihood of foster children graduating from high school or getting a GED, obtaining employment, being enrolled in school and being incarcerated or having a criminal record.

The scholarships would also include trade schools and community colleges.

“I believe foster children operate under tremendous disadvantages, even when placed in loving foster homes, simply because so many of them move from foster home to foster home and have greater difficulty establishing relationships that are common to those who are blessed to have been in a single home situation throughout their youth,” Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, said in committee testimony. “The amount of money we propose to spend is modest, but a firm step forward in helping some of the most vulnerable of our young people be able to achieve the higher education outcomes that will facilitate a productive life.”

House Bill 164 now heads to the Senate.

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