Your March 16 article “Reforms in foster care sought; Legislators talk issues at Right to Life meeting in Toledo” included statements by Ohio Right to Life president Mike Gonidakis and state Sen. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green) that paint an inaccurate and offensive picture of the girls who experience foster care as teens.
Mr. Gonidakis makes the incorrect — and unchallenged — assertion that “upwards of 50 percent of all young women in the Ohio foster-care system end up being pregnant.”
According to our data, only four of the 44 girls between the ages of 12 and 18 in Lucas County Children Services foster care are minor mothers. Even including all minor mothers who have open cases with our agency, the number rises to only 10.
The Healthy Lucas County 2011 Health Assessment Project, released in February, 2012, found that only 3 percent of Lucas County’s population of girls between the ages of 12 and 18 had been pregnant.
Most teens in Children Services foster care participate at age 15 in our Independent Living program, which prepares them to live independently as adults. This program includes a segment on personal health and the impact that unexpected pregnancy can have on their likelihood of success.
While Mr. Gonidakis bemoans the high cost of adopting a newborn baby, families should know that there is no cost to adopt a child through an Ohio county children services agency. LCCS has between 25 and 30 children awaiting adoption who deserve permanent, loving families just as much as infants do.
We encourage Senator Gardner to sponsor legislation that “cares about children who are already here,” as he put it, and provide funding to promote adoption of older children and sibling groups.
We hope that Senator Gardner and Ohio Right to Life will join with Ohio’s 88 public children services agencies to help stabilize families, so that fewer children of all ages become at risk of abuse or neglect.
Executive Director Lucas County Children Services