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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Update on Scholar House 3

Link to more photos.

Ohio foster care youth and alumni have been working with the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority and Columbus State Community College to propose and design a Scholar House III for former foster youth pursuing higher education.

Former foster youth, including representatives from ACTION Ohio and participants in the Columbus State Scholar Network, worked with the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority to decide what services would be needed, and to vote on specific elements related to building design.

Our project was chosen as a secondary priority for the 2018 Qualified Allocation Plan’s set aside for Transitioning Aged Youth – and is being funded by CMHA as a strategic opportunity.

To learn more, please view this recent design presentation by Moody Nolan - with only one caveat: There will be 30 total apartments, not just 20.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Scheduling a Visit With Your District Office

Many thanks to foster care youth, alumni and allies for signing the online petition in support of the Fostering Stable Housing Act.

Let’s keep working together to remind federal legislators about the need for housing opportunities for former foster youth between ages 18-25.

The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act has passed United States House of Representatives’ Financial Services Committee. The next step is consideration on the Floor of the House. In the meantime, a partner bill (that mirrors this one) is also going through the United States Senate.

During the month of September, we are reaching out to foster care youth, alumni and allies throughout the nation, and asking them to reach out to their local district office about this issue.

1.) Who is my legislator?
Here’s a link to find out. You can put in your zip code.
We are also trying to reach specific legislators from specific states. If you live in that state, please reach out to them.

2.) How do I schedule a meeting?
You can call and make an appointment, and say something like this:
“Hi, my name is __________ and I am a constituent of your district. I am calling to schedule a meeting with your office regarding important issues related to housing and child welfare. Is Congressman/Senator [NAME] available to meet with me on [DATE]? If not, could you let me know some dates that he/she or a staff person might be available to meet? Thank you so much for your time.”
3.) How can I prepare for the meeting?
You will want to read over, and be familiar with these Talking Points.
(And please keep us posted in advance of your scheduled visits, in case we can be of support).
If you want to know more, it might help to look at:
– a statewide youth board’s Letter of Support
Federal Testimony on behalf of a foster care alumna
– a Detailed Support Letter from the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare
4.) What information should I bring to the meeting?
You can print a copy of the Talking Points and the Turner bill summary, and give them to the legislator and/or their staffer.

5.) How can I follow up after the meeting?
You will want to keep a copy of their business card, and write a thank you letter afterwards.

Please keep us posted, and know that we are here to support.  I’m a former foster youth myself, who experienced homelessness within a year of “aging out” of foster care. But I aged out in 1989 – so why are our brothers and sisters of the system still struggling with this (predictable and fixable) issue?

We can and we must end the Foster Care to Homeless Pipeline – together.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Appreciation for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is a long-time champion of Ohio foster care youth and alumni.

We greatly appreciate him including us in his 2012 Child Safety Summits, and 2013 Two Days in May. He included youth voice in every Child Safety Summit, and empowered youth as Subject Matter Experts during the 2013 Two Days in May conference.

Many thanks also to the Ohio Attorney General's Office for providing grant funding to support Ohio Reach - this initiative has improved higher educational outcomes for foster care youth throughout the state.

We read with interest that the Ohio Attorney General's policy priorities in 2018 include:

1.) Reviewing Ohio's foster care system and increasing funding to create a "standard minimum care"
2.) Appointing a foster care ombudsman to investigate and publish findings on the foster system
3.) Creating a Director of Child Initiatives to coordinate child programs statewide.

During the recent OHIO YAB Officers Retreat, on June 23, 2018, participating youth also proposed the establishment of a Foster Care Ombudsman's Office in the state of Ohio in order to provide independent investigation of concerns expressed by Ohio foster care youth and young adults.

This person’s role would be:

  • To serve as a protective measure to safeguard the physical safety and emotional well-being of youth whose lives are entrusted to the foster care system
  • To be available for foster care children and teens throughout the state to share concerns related to their rights, care and well-being and/or issues with their placement or services received while in foster care
  • To listen to, document, and follow up on their concerns 
  • To ensure that foster youth are being protected from further harm and receiving the services they need
  • To provide a venue so that the voices of foster care youth and teens are heard, without fear of retribution. 

Quote from youth: “Don’t let referral lead to retaliation”

Youth felt that this future Ombudsman definitely needs to be available to young people in group homes and residential placements, as well as foster homes. Oftentimes, youth in group homes or residential aren’t believed, and their concerns are disregarded.

Quote from youth: “The danger of some group homes and residential placements is that things happen behind walls, and other people don’t know what’s really going on.”

In terms of defining ‘What is abuse?’
Youth felt that a good rule of thumb is that: “If a caseworker would open a case against my biological parents for this allegation, then if it happens in a kinship care placement, guardianship, foster home, group home or residential placement, it should also be thoroughly investigated.”

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Michael Outrich and Columbus's 100-Day Challenge to End Youth Homelessness

Michael Outrich brings a wealth of insights to ACTION Ohio. We deeply appreciate his ever-growing expertise when it comes to local, state and national homelessness policies.

In 2017, Michael participated in Columbus's 100-Day Challenge to End Youth Homelessness in the community. He served on a youth advisory board panel to help local organizations that serve homeless youth generate a comprehensive framework aimed at solving the youth homelessness problem in Columbus.

Participating organizations included:

  • Huckleberry House 
  • YMCA of Central Ohio 
  • Van Buren Shelter 
  •  The Center for Healthy Families 
  •  Franklin County Children Services 
  •  Star House 
  •  Community Shelter Board 
  •  The City of Columbus Department of Development 

2018 ACTION Ohio ~ July Meeting and Conference Call

Link to more photos.

2018 NE Ohio Focus Group

Link to more photos.