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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Engaging Speaker for Future Ohio Events

Jamole Callahan entered foster care at age 13. Since graduating from high school, he has attended Central State University. Jamole has hosted dozens of banquets for Franklin County Children Services and Youth over the years. He participated in the “All Kids Count” campaign, and has spoken before foster parent trainings and workshops for graduating seniors.

Jamole is currently working as a supervisor for the DCL Medical Laboratory in Indianapolis. In 2007, he started his own business: “90 Degree Entertainment,” managing seven artists in negotiating recording contracts.


Jamole has been married for three years to his college sweetheart, Nealita Cherie. They have three sons; ages 1, 3 and 5 years old.

Contact Jamole: jamolec@aol.com

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

FCAA-Ohio Chapter Leadership Team

In 2007, when Ohio’s first FCAA elections were held, we determined that our chapter would allow elected officers the authority to modify officer positions in order to maximize the strengths of each person who is elected. This allows Ohio FCAA officers to negotiate the breakdown of duties in a way that makes the most sense for our chapter.

Ohio chapter membership has grown, in numbers and in experience. We have been aided in our growth through the annual Alumni Leadership Institute training, and opportunities to advocate nationally provided by Casey, NACAC and Foster Care Alumni of America. We have been challenged to deepen our advocacy expertise by repeated challenges to the future of our state’s Independent Living funding.

In 2009, Ohio FCAA officers and active members decided that we needed a larger leadership team in order to maximize our effectiveness. New positions include: Adoption Liaison, Media Spokesperson, Legislative Liaison, and a position of leadership over the newly established Cincinnati Subchapter.

2009 Revised Officer Positions

1. Operations Chair, Gabriel Koshinsky: Provides the structural component of our chapter. Ensures chapter compliance to national policies and procedures. In charge of finance-related projects such as fund-raising, and annual projects such as the FCAA Family Reunion.

2. Communications Chair, Lisa Dickson: Lead spokesperson for the chapter in terms of outreach, workshop development and policy. Maintains chapter records and communications, such as membership roster, volunteer hours, chapter newsletters, and website content.

3. Youth Outreach, Denee Foster: Facilitates peer support for the alumni of tomorrow, including enlisting youth insight in order to influence the Ohio chapter’s priorities and strategies.

4. Adoption Liaison, Amanda Dunlap: In charge of resource development and advocacy efforts having to do with adoptees. Ongoing communication and collaboration with NACAC, American Adoption Congress and Adoption Network Cleveland regarding issues such as sibling visitation, adjustment to adoptive families, and birth certificate issues.

5.) Media Spokesperson, Adrian McLemore: Represents the Ohio chapter to the local media. Responsible to be prepared discuss current initiatives and provide accurate quotes.

6.) Legislative Liaison, Alex McFarland: Responsible to stay informed about foster care news and advocacy areas in Ohio, and help devise advocacy strategy. Schedule legislative visits when needed.

7.) Cincinnati Subchapter, Amy Roberts: Facilitates membership growth and leadership development of Cincinnati FCAA members, with support from FCAA members all over Ohio, particularly members of the FCAA-OH chapter leadership team.

Subject Matter Experts
Since our inception, the Ohio chapter has established a strong statewide and national reputation regarding providing high quality workshops.

We’ve had the honor of presenting at It’s My Life, Daniel Memorial, NILA, American Adoption Congress and the Colorado Summit on Youth and Families. We’ve even been invited to apply as certified child welfare trainers for OCWTP.

This has created the need to tap into chapter member expertise regarding workshop subject matter.

Therefore addition to our Adoption Liaison, who will focus on adoption-related issues including sibling visitation, we are inviting members throughout the state to provide their expertise as SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) on various training topics such as:

- Juvenile Justice
- LBGTQ
- Teen/Single Parenting

Several members in Cleveland are experimenting with different ways to share our messages – through Digital Storytelling!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Letter to Representative Sykes and HB I Conference Committee Members


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Representative Vernon Sykes
77 South High Street
Columbus, Ohio
43215-6111

Dear Representative Sykes and HB 1 Conference Committee Members,

The Ohio chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America is a membership organization of Ohio former foster youth and our allies in the child welfare system.

We are writing to ask you to make it a budget priority to make sure that Ohio’s 1,300 young people who “age out” of foster care each year receive adequate preparation to face the adult world alone.

Historically, the Independent Living Initiative has provided life skills training and work support services to prepare for foster youth for adulthood. However, the future of this funding has been threatened at several points during the biennual budget process.

Seven former foster youth, Adrian McLemore, Lamar Hammons, Sarah Callihan, Tim Hill, Lisa Dickson, Grace Hilliard and Gabriel Koshinsky, testified before the Human Services Subcommittee on March 19, 2009.

The March 19th Hannah Report referred to our testimony: “While they were lobbying for the restoration of $2.5 million/year in Independent Living funds to help foster youth who age out of the system, they themselves were perhaps the best selling point, with Rep. Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) commenting that they were a “thoroughly impressive group.”

Our May 30th testimony before the Ohio Senate was also published in the Hannah Report:

Dickson, a former foster child and youth advocate, said that foster children are not a line item and rely on the state to act as a parent. Without proper intervention, Dickson said, those children are at higher risk for poverty, unemployment and incarceration. "Ohio taxpayers will pay for their needs one way or another," she said.

McFarland shared his experience as a child who spent five years in foster care. "Without these services, I would not have been the person that I am today."


The Ohio chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America is grateful to the House and Senate for maintaining an earmark that would continue funding for these services a reduced level of $3 million over the FY 2010-2011 biennium.

However, unlike the House version of HB 1, the Senate version does not provide the extra $3 million in the General Revenue Fund to fund the program. Please consider setting aside $3 million over the biennium to GRF 600523 for the Independent Living Initiative.

The Hopes and Dreams of Ohio’s foster care alumni are displayed in a visual display of hands which we have delivered to Representative Sykes’ office, and asked him to share with the conference committee.

We are sharing our dreams:
I am reaching… “To be the best mother that I can be, while pursuing my college degree.”

But I might need a hand to get me started! Independent Living funds helped Vanessa Jackson learn how to cook and budget.

We offer up our hopes:

Hoping you, like me, invest in their future: As a former foster child, Denee Foster knows the importance of Independent Living preparation.

Not a handout, but a hand-up… Denee volunteers her time at Children’s Hospital and teaches life skills to foster care youth at Village Network.

And we offer you our passion, dedication and energy. Regardless of the outcome of this budget, we believe that the way that independent living services are funded for Ohio foster care youth needs to be examined.

If a Foster Care-Independent Living Study Committee is established to develop legislative and funding recommendations regarding Independent Living services for foster youth, our members will actively participate.

Sincerely,

Lisa Dickson
Communications Chair
Foster Care Alumni of America Ohio chapter
www.fcaa-oh.org

Hopes and Dreams of Ohio Foster Care Alumni

DREAMS of Foster Care Youth and Alumni:

I am reaching… “To be the best mother that I can be, while pursuing my college degree.”

But I might need a hand to get me started! Independent Living funds helped Vanessa Jackson learn how to cook and budget.

***

I am reaching… “Toward serving my country in the military, while continuing to pursue my college degree.”

But I might need a hand to get me started! Independent Living funds helped Lamar Hammons find a mentor through the College Bound Mentoring Program.

***

I am reaching… “Toward safeguarding the lives and homes of others by working for Jefferson Township’s Fire Department.”

But I might need a hand to get me started! Independent Living funds provided emergency housing for Tim Hill when he first exited foster care.

***

I am reaching… “Toward finding a job after graduating from Wright State University
with a Bachelors in Criminal Justice and a minor in Political Science.”

But I might need a hand to get me started! Independent Living funds equipped Sarah Callihan with life skills that helped her transition into college life easily.

***

I am reaching… “Forward to my junior year at Miami University, where I’m pursuing a double major in Psychology and Sociology with double minors in Black World Studies and Political Science.”

But I might need a hand to get me started! Independent Living funds helped Kierra Williams get involved with a youth advisory board, and find out that she has leadership abilities.

***

HOPES of Ohio Foster Care Alumni on behalf of their younger brothers and sisters:

Hoping you, like me, invest in their future: As a former foster child, Denee Foster knows the importance of Independent Living preparation.

Not a handout, but a hand-up… Denee volunteers her time at Children’s Hospital and
teaches life skills to foster care youth at Village Network.

***

Hoping you, like me, invest in their future: As a former foster child, Grace Hilliard has testified several times about the importance of the Independent Living Allocation.

Not a handout, but a hand-up… Grace graduated in May from CCAD with a BA in Fine Arts, and is entering graduate school at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

***

Hoping you, like me, invest in their future: As a former foster child, Adrian McLemore has testified several times about the importance of the Independent Living Allocation.

Not a handout, but a hand-up… Adrian was recently named FosterClub’s Outstanding Young Leader of the Year. He is actively involved in Student Government at Wright State University – and he aspires to be President someday.

***

Hoping you, like me, invest in their future: Lisa Dickson is a 30-something former foster child. She founded the Ohio chapter of Foster Alumni of America three years ago.

Not a handout, but a hand-up… Lisa has Masters degree in Library Science, and has used her skills in research to craft workshops for national conferences and to assist the Ohio Child Welfare Training Program.

***

Hoping you, like me, invest in their future: Ralph Wills spoke before an audience of 100+ higher education officials and 100+ social workers during the 2009 Ohio Reach event.

Not a handout, but a hand-up… Ralph recently graduated from Muskingum College and
found employment through Maxim Healthcare Services.