Joe Motil

As youth violence continues to rise in Columbus, and parents of teenagers are “begging and pleading” with legal and elected authorities to arrest and lock them up (WBNS TV “Mother of son who keeps stealing cars: Please lock him up” September 27, 2023) what options are these parents being provided with if any?

As mayor of Columbus, I will allocate $3 million into our Columbus Public Health Departments budget that will provide grants to families to obtain behavioral health and social supports through the OhioRise program.

OhioRise “specializes in services to help our youth with behavioral health and multisystem needs.” In order to receive these benefits, you must be enrolled in Medicaid or apply for a “scholarship” which is time consuming and such delays can be detrimental to a client. There are too many families that are poverty stricken but are not covered under Medicaid. And those who do have other insurance plans, may not have the proper coverage to provide these important services for their children. Families with other insurance plans likely need help to pay the deductible as well. This grant money can go a long way with providing financial assistance to help our youth get back on a straight and narrow path.

I would suggest to our Juvenile Court judges that they mandate such services to youth offenders when appropriate. Another apparent problem is that parents do not know what types of services are available to them. We need to familiarize parents and guardians with these behavioral treatments and supportive services and without jumping through bureaucratic hoops.  

No one is advocating for locking up our youth and throwing the key. And if our juvenile detention centers are not being properly run as suggested in a recent Columbus Dispatch guest column (September 31, 2023 Neglect, being caged make violence at youth prisons inevitable), then our county officials need to step up. There must be consequences for one’s actions but even more importantly we must provide our young people and their families with the necessary services and care they deserve.