With 400 kids in foster care and only 24 licensed foster homes in Scioto County, many wonder why the county can’t just build an old-fashioned children’s home. As appealing as the idea may sound on paper, building a children’s home would be difficult for several reasons. Let’s break them down.
The average cost to build a college dormitory housing between 200 and 500 people is $28 million. Any building of this type would be required to be strict safety standards. One intended to house children would be even more expensive.
Child safety features would be required and children would need to be separated by age for safety reasons. Children with psychological issues, special needs, and behavioral issues would also need to be separated into different units.
Round the clock, 365-days a year staffing would be required to care for children. Workers would be required by law to be licensed professionals.
The operating costs for a children’s home would be several million dollars a year. Scioto County Children Services is currently running with about a $2 million shortfall for 2022.
No Funding Available
State and federal agencies do not favor institutional care. Grants and other types of funding are not available to help out with the costs. Such an institution would require a massive tax levy to build and maintain.
Abuse and Neglect
People tend to forget that the reason children’s homes were shut down in the first place was due to numerous cases of physical and sexual abuse of children and the deaths of children in institutional care.
Just yesterday, several women in Parma, Ohio stepped forward to detail cruel mistreatment at the former Parmdale Children’s Home in the 1960s.
However, smaller-scale solutions might be easier to implement. For example, a smaller intake facility where children could be evaluated and given a place to stay while CPS has the opportunity to do background checks and provide training to potential kinship care families.
Encouraging more local families to become foster parents would be less expensive and also keep children in a family setting.
Speeding up permanent placement. Cutting down the length of time children are kept in foster care would also take a burden off the county. Quicker action by courts to sever parental rights or grant permanent custody to foster parents would not only save money, but it would also decrease disruption to the lives of children.