FCASPL 288 (ABC Nursery Program for Infants and Incarcerated Mothers)
Family, Children and Adult Services Procedure Letter No. 288
August 27, 2015
TO: Family, Children and Adult Services Manual Holders
FROM: Cynthia C. Dungey, Director
SUBJECT: ABC Nursery Program for Infants and Incarcerated Mothers

This Procedure Letter provides information to public children services agencies (PCSAs) regarding the Achieving Baby Care Success (ABC'S) Program operated out of the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville. Additionally, this letter provides guidance and clarification regarding PCSA responsibilities to provide placement services for infants of incarcerated mothers, specifically as the requirements relate to the ABC Nursery Program. This guidance will result in amendments to rule 5101:2-42-60 of the Administrative Code in the near future.

The ABC'S Program allows incarcerated pregnant inmates to maintain custody of their infants after they are born. As part of the eligibility requirements for this program, the inmate must have an alleged perpetrator check completed and must also have an alternative plan for the child if the child or inmate are unable to complete the program or do not qualify for the program. An alternative plan includes the identification and completion of an approved home assessment of a relative or non-relative caregiver, or an agreement by the PCSA that the child will be taken into custody and placed into another substitute care setting.

Rule 5101:2-42-60 of the Administrative Code requires PCSAs to coordinate with correctional facilities to ensure appropriate placement services are provided to infants of incarcerated mothers. Paragraph (B)(1) of rule 5101:2-42-60 requires that PCSAs conduct a home assessment of a proposed relative or non-relative caregiver recommended by the incarcerated woman. "Relative" as defined in rule 5101:2-1-01 of the Administrative Code includes individuals related by blood or adoption. When the incarcerated woman recommends her spouse or the child's father as a possible placement resource for the child, the PCSA is required to complete a home assessment in accordance with rule 5101:2-42-18 of the Administrative Code for that individual.

To facilitate the operation of this program, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services will coordinate with the Ohio Reformatory for Women to conduct alleged perpetrator checks at the request of the inmate who is being considered for eligibility. PCSAs will not be required to complete these requests. However, PCSAs are required to complete home assessments for the relative or non-relative caregiver that has been identified as an alternative placement option in the event that the inmate and child are not able to complete the program. This requirement is applicable even when the request is made prior to the child's birth. Additionally, PCSAs are asked to provide a statement, on letterhead, when requested by the Ohio Reformatory for Women that if there is no identified or approved relative or non-relative caregiver for the inmate, that the PCSA, at a later date, will take custody of the child and locate another substitute care placement if needed.