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Sunday, February 4, 2018

How will Bridges referrals work?

Below is the referral process for Bridges...

Emancipated foster youth can also refer themselves to Bridges for extended foster care supports until age 21:

Another note of clarification provided by the Bridges team in response to questions received from counties:

 Q: Our PCSA has an established independent living/emancipation program. Is our agency still responsible for providing post-emancipation services through our independent living coordinator, or should we refer youth to Bridges when they contact us for assistance?

A: You must offer Bridges as an option to all young adults who will be emancipating at age 18 or older, or who already emancipated but are not yet 21, and who request post-emancipation services. If a young adult contacts you for post- emancipation services, seems to meet Bridges eligibility criteria and would like to learn more, you should make a referral to the appropriate regional Bridges agency.

However, not all young adults will meet the Bridges eligibility criteria. In addition, some will not want to enroll in Bridges, and some may need post-emancipation services during the Bridges application and approval process.

In all of those cases, OAC Rule 5101: 2-42-19.2 is still in effect, requiring you to provide independent living services to emancipated youth who request help. Ideally, these services will help them become eligible for Bridges so they can get additional supports toward independence.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Junior League SPAC (State Public Affairs Committee)

Doris Edelmann​ and Lisa Dickson met with Junior League SPAC (State Public Affairs Committee) today.
We gave them each folders, and shared the following information:
1.) Alumni of Care Together Improving Outcomes Now (ACTION Ohio)
· Our volunteer organization is dedicated to improving outcomes for current and former foster youth.
· Our initiatives include Three Days On the Hill, Suits for Success, and annual early Thanksgiving dinners for Foster Care Youth and Alumni.
· We also facilitate and support the statewide OHIO Youth Advisory Board.
2.) Foster Care to Homelessness Pipeline:
· Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act, created by Representative Michael Turner (R-Dayton), in response to our annual trips to DC for foster youth.
· Local advocacy to create a Scholar House III for foster care alumni pursuing higher education.
3.) Current and future Ohio legislation impacting foster care youth/alumni:
· HB: 448 Sibling Rights Legislation
· HB 137: Police as Mandated Reporters
· Future legislation to create a statewide Foster Care Ombudsman
4.) Bridges Implementation
· Bridges is a voluntary program available to young adults who leave foster care in Ohio at ages 18, 19 or 20 and who are in school, working, participating in an employment program, or have a medical condition that prevents them from going to school or working.
· The program supplements existing county post-emancipation services.
· Most Bridges services fall into one of the following categories: housing, education, employment and/or well-being.
5.) Questions and Answers

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Update on our work to create a Scholar House III for Foster Scholars

Ohio foster care youth and alumni have been working with the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority and Columbus State Community College to propose a Scholar House III for former foster youth pursuing higher education.
Former foster youth worked directly 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 our understanding is that only the first recommendation will actually be funded.
During the OHIO Youth Advisory Board's recent Youth Policy Retreat, youth leaders recommended that the next step might be:
  • To host a Round Table in May, with foster care youth/alumni “Captains” at each table, along with Flip Charts, to brainstorm how to move this project forward.
  • The youth came up with a list of people to invite to the Roundtable, including the Mayor, the Ohio Attorney General, County Commissioners, Shelter and Policy Board, CMHA, CPO Management, President of CSCC, President of OSU, OSU Foundation Staff, OACCA, CEO of White Castle, CEO of Mitchell’s, JCPCares, Chase Bank, the Wexners, the Schottensteins, Cardinal Health, Nationwide, Fortune 500 companies, and lobbyists

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

HB 137: Ohio Police as Mandated Reporters

What does it mean to be a mandated reporter?

Mandated reporters are required to make a report of suspected abuse when they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child or teenager is a victim of abuse.

Every state has in our nation has statutes identifying which professionals who have frequent contact with children and teens are required to report suspected maltreatment - but Ohio is the only state that doesn’t include police officers on its list of mandated reporters.

HB 137, as proposed by Representative Bernadette Kennedy would amend Section 2151.42 of the Ohio Revised Code to make municipal and county police officers mandatory reporters of abuse and neglect.

How does it feel to be a child or teen experiencing abuse or neglect?

The Overcoming Hurdles in Ohio Youth Advisory Board (OHIO YAB) is a statewide organization of young people (aged 14-24) who have experienced foster care. Our mission is to be the knowledgeable statewide voice that influences policies and practices that effect all youth who have or will experience out of home care.

Alumni of Care Together Improving Outcomes Now (ACTION Ohio) is dedicated to improving outcomes for current and former foster youth. Our mission is to bring together the voices of foster care youth, alumni and allies, in order to create lasting change and generate hope for current and former foster youth, based on access to resources, ally support and alumni expertise.

Speaking as current and former foster youth, who serve as statewide leaders and community volunteers, we strongly support this bill.  

We can testify from personal experience that physical abuse comes with a feeling of powerless. To experience abuse without intervention gives children and teens a scary message about their personal worth and what to expect from other people.

How would empowering police as mandated reporters help?

From a child welfare and emotional health standpoint, it is essential that police officers in our state become mandated reporters. This will make a life-changing - and even life-saving - difference for children and teens. 

Sadly, throughout the state of Ohio, in every legislative district, there are children and teenagers who - right now at this very moment - are being physically abused.

As the PCSAO Factbook illustrates, the #1 reason for children and teens coming into foster care in Ohio is physical abuse.

Now, let's think about the kids and teens who aren't being counted or included in that number. What about them?  How long will they continue to experience abuse without intervention?

How can we work together to solve this problem?

We care about and deeply appreciate Ohio police officers - and that's why we need them on our team to help push this forward. Our goal is to work together with them to develop a better safety net for vulnerable youth in Ohio.

We value our police, and recognize that some officers are taking the time to report abuse already. This next step forward is about “level setting” – getting everyone on the same page, in order to provide consistency in response to abused teens and children throughout our state.

The National Fraternal Order of Police and law enforcement officials support this bill.  Their support demonstrates that they view the responsibility of reporting abuse and neglect as central to their jobs, and the statistics bear out that this is true.  HB 137 will enhance the relationship between law enforcement and children’s services and further develop the safety net for vulnerable children.

How can we move forward together?

The first step is passing this bill.

The next steps will include trauma-informed training, mentorship and support. This can include a focus on Best Practices; officers who do a good job at reporting abuse can serve as mentors and role models. Training can include reminding police officers to view teenagers not as perpetrators, but as victims of abuse.

Let’s stay in touch, and continue working together

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Need-to-know resources for current/former foster care youth in Ohio

Here in Ohio, we are exploring way to create a future phone app for foster care teens and young adults, to connect them with available resources.

During our July 2017 statewide OHIO YAB meeting, participants, including our statewide Board President, talked about how having a phone app to access information, by category, in the moment of need/crisis, would be beneficial.

In the meantime, these are the resource lists/tools that we have compiled so far:

1.) Statewide Resources for Foster Youth

2.) Statewide Resources Grid   (listed in the order that the specific requirements for the provision of independent living services to youth in custody was listed in Ohio Administrative Code: 5101:2-42-19)

3.) OHIO YAB Foster Youth Rights Handbook (edited by Alexander McFarland)

4.) Independent Living Roadmap and Toolkit (draft created by Michael Outrich)

5.) Franklin County Resources for Foster Youth

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Ohio House Bill 448: Advocating for Sibling Visitation

Update: Ida Yarngo of Franklin County was excited to to participate in the recent interested parties meeting that Representatives LaTourette and Boyd hosted on Tuesday, January, 16, to introduce HB 448: Sibling Rights Legislation.
Ida shared that when she came to the United States from Liberia, everyone and everything that she had ever known was now literally a continent away. And the one familiar comfort to her was her brother. And then she was separated from that connection as well. When that happened, Ida felt incredibly alone.
She was honored to have the opportunity to meet with the legislators who are championing this legislation, and to thank them for standing beside her to improve policy regarding this important issue.    

The current wording of Ohio House Bill 448 defines a sibling as:

  • Someone who "shares at least one biological or adoptive parents, or has been raised in the household as a sibling."

It is important that this definition remains broad, because:

  • When families break down, relationships become complex and complicated.
  • Sibling relationships might include biological siblings who were relinquished or removed at birth, half-siblings, step-siblings or current/former foster siblings.
  • Not all couples are married, so a sibling could include: "Mom's ex-boyfriend's daughter."

It will also be important for the wording to remain firm in order to truly make those sibling connections HAPPEN:

Research demonstrates that the sibling bond is stronger between brothers and sisters from dysfunctional families. In abusive and/or neglectful families, it is common for siblings to nurture and protect one another. When parents are neglectful or abusive, older siblings often voluntarily take on a quasi-parental role.

Quote from a Time Magazine article about "The New Science of Siblings:"
  • “From the time they are born, our brothers and sisters are our collaborators and co-conspirators, our role models and cautionary tales, our protective barrier against family upheaval.
  • "They are our scolds, protectors, goads, tormentors, playmates, counselors, sources of envy, objects of pride. They teach us how to resolve conflicts and how not to; how to conduct friendships and when to walk away from them. Sisters teach brothers about the mysteries of girls; brothers teach sisters about the puzzle of boys.
  • "Our spouses arrive comparatively late in our lives; our parents eventually leave us. Our siblings may be the only people we'll ever know who truly qualify as partners for life.