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Friday, July 21, 2017

DC Opportunities for Foster Care Youth and Alumni



1.) CCAI Foster Youth Internship Program

Throughout the summer, the FYI Program interns spend time researching about policy issues affecting foster children across the country. These experiences allow the interns to create a policy report that is presented at a congressional briefing and released to child welfare advocates across the country.



2.) Congressional Foster Shadow Day

Every year, the Congressional Caucus On Foster Youth hosts over 100 current and former foster youth from across the nation as part of their Annual Foster Youth Shadow Day. The young people are paired with a federal representative. They participate in legislative meetings, and have the opportunity to share their personal experiences to make a difference for others.



3.) National Foster Care Youth and Alumni Policy Council

This is a two year commitment that includes regular phone calls, meetings and trips Washington, DC. Flights, hotel and food costs are covered.

Three Upcoming Video Projects

Three Upcoming Video Projects:

1.) The OHIO Youth Advisory Board invites foster parents of teens and foster youth who have had a very positive experience in foster care to fill out our Video Application to create a future video to recruit foster parents for teens and host homes for young adults.

2.) The OHIO Youth Advisory Board invites foster care youth and alumni who want to share their insights about things they wish someone had told them to prepare for life after foster care as part of our upcoming Foster the Future video series.

3.) The Bridges team is partnering with the Ohio Supreme Court to work on a video series as well. Below is a hint of what they have in mind. Learn more by contacting them at Bridges@jfs.ohio.gov



2017 July OHIO YAB Meeting



During the 2017 July OHIO Youth Advisory Board meeting, Officers shared:

  1. The latest draft of independent living resources, authored by Michael Outrich - youth feedback and input is welcome
  2. The VISION shirts that will be given to youth who attend our "Take Your Future From Vision to Reality" workshop during the 2017 Fostering Pathways Conference
  3. The Passion Planners that will be given to youth who participate in our "Time Management: Turn Your Passion Into Plans," also during the Pathways conference on Oct. 12, 2017

    Link to more photos

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

ACTION Ohio is still seeking Suits storage space


Suits for Success provides professional attire to current and former foster youth who are preparing to enter the workforce. This program was created in 2011 by Ohio foster care alumni and the Ohio State Bar Foundation.

ACTION Ohio (Alumni of Care Together Improving Outcomes Now) takes the lead on facilitation, with regional suits drives and behind-the-scenes assistance organized by the Ohio State Bar Foundation.

The success of this ongoing initiative reflects the support of many organizational partners, including OACCA, the United Methodist Children’s Home, and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Link to photos.

We are currently seeking a future storage location for donated suits. Our current storage facility will only be available for the next 2-3 months.

Any donated space would be tax-deductible, as per our fiscal agent, OACCA:

Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies
ATTN: Suits for Success
 2600 Corporate Exchange Drive, Suite 180
 Columbus OH 43231 (614) 461-0014

OACCA's Federal Tax ID #: 34-1168205

Questions can be directed to:
Lisa Dickson Communications Chair
ACTION Ohio
Alumni of Care Together Improving Outcomes Now
lisa@fosteractionohio.org
www.fosteractionohio.org

This Week News: Lights, Camera... ACTION!

Day by Day: ‘Aging out’ of foster care can bring difficulty
By Liz Thompson, This Week News, July 3, 2017.

Her mother died of cancer when she was 10. Her father was physically abusive and she was removed from the home. In foster care, she lived in an emergency shelter, an all-girls group home and a co-ed group home.

Lisa Dickson was inspired by these experiences to become an advocate for change. At 16, she was accepted into college -- her lifeline into the future.

“I remain forever grateful to Randy Mills, former admissions counselor at the University of Kentucky, for literally walking me down the hall to financial aid and telling them, ‘This girl has no family to help her -- this girl needs grants,’ ” said Dickson, now a Westerville resident.

“It sounds great to say that I started college at age 16 -- but by age 17, I was homeless due to trying to rescue my former roommate from a group home. This urge to rescue others is so strong that we Ohio foster-care (alumni) currently lead a workshop called ‘When Helping You Is Hurting Me,’ ” Dickson said.

During her time in foster care, Dickson said she often had no voice. Today, she listens to the voices of current and former foster youth. They stand side by side to improve outcomes for people in and from foster care.

Dickson considers it an honor to volunteer as communications chairwoman of Alumni of Care Together Improving Outcomes Now Ohio, and as co-facilitator of the Overcoming Hurdles in Ohio Youth Advisory Board. She helped create both groups in 2006. Their initiatives include annual trips to Washington, D.C., to share their hard-won experiences and advocate for policy change, such as ending the “pipeline” from foster care to homelessness.

“What I don’t get is this: I aged out of foster care in 1989 and ended up homeless,” Dickson said. “Why are today’s youths still aging out into homelessness? We could and should and must do better.”

U.S. Rep. Michael Turner (R-Dayton) created the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act as a direct result of one of those visits to Washington.

This act, with no additional spending required, allows foster-care youth who are close to “aging out” of foster care to jump to the front of the waitlist for housing assistance when they reach 16 years old.

ACTION Ohio’s Suits for Success program provides professional attire to current and former foster youths who are preparing to enter the workforce. Suits for Success needs a future storage location for donated suits. The organization welcomes suit donations on an ongoing basis. It often pairs distribution of the suits with job-interview simulations and resume practice.

“Time and time again, our young people tell us that it’s not enough to know what the resources are -- they need coaching and guidance regarding how to access them effectively.”

Two such places are Capital Law School’s free Family and Youth Advocacy Center for current or former foster youths and Columbus State Community College’s Scholar Network.

“Even after graduating college, as a foster-care survivor, it can feel lonely to be ‘one of the ones who made it,’ ” Dickson said. “Our young people today deserve to have campus liaisons like Randy to support them.”

Holidays and birthdays can be lonely for current and former foster youths, when many families gather to celebrate.

“I’ve been married for 17 years and have two beloved stepdaughters, but I don’t expect them to understand what the foster-care experience was like for me,” Dickson said.

On Thanksgiving 2007, Dickson and other former foster youths from across the nation traveled to Washington to encourage the federal government to extend foster-care support to age 21. They shared Thanksgiving dinner on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

From 2008 onward, Ohio has held statewide and regional early Thanksgiving dinners for foster-care teens and alumni. Dickson serves as lead planner.

“When we come together as brothers and sisters of the foster-care system, we can encourage and support one another. We celebrate each other’s success and continue to improve outcomes for the next generation.”

Much needs to be done, as an average of 150 children in Franklin County alone age out of foster care every year.

For more information, email info@fosteractionohio.org

Thursday, June 22, 2017

2017 CFSR


Kudos to our Ohio youth representatives for doing an amazing job on Tuesday, as part of the Federal Review of ODJFS.

Link to more photos.

Insights they shared included the following: 

  1. Appreciation for the Bridges program and YAB funding
  2. Ongoing challenges related to the fact that Ohio child welfare does the same thing 88 different ways, depending on county
  3. Expressing the need for Normalcy: Ohio's training went out to foster parents first, but many public and private child welfare agencies still haven't changed their policies
  4. Sharing the challenge of being in the custody of one county but placed in another: Ohio needs a bigger pool of foster parents for teens and host homes for young adults
  5. Reminding us of the need to make sure youth are still receiving copies of the OHIO YAB Youth Rights Handbook on an ongoing basis
  6. Sharing the need for more consistent Life Skills preparation: not just sharing a class one time; letting youth practice new skills more than once
  7. Reminding the Feds that Permanency needs to be permanent, rather than  adoptions that break down or are unsafe -- if only everyone did adoptions the Dave Thomas way
  8. Reminder again of the need for safe placements: our young people deserve to be safe in bio, adoptive, foster, kin, group homes, residential -- and it needs to be suited to their needs and development
  9. Asking youth why they ran away - and not just returning them to that same placement
  10. Youth also talked about higher education supports, like the CSCC Scholar Program

2017 OFCA Conference


Ashley Marie Williams and Katana Waters did a wonderful job representing the voices of current and former foster youth during the 2017 Ohio Family Care Association (OFCA) Conference.

Link to additional photos.