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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Winter 2010 Ohio YAB Update


The Ohio chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America is privileged to serve, side-by-side with Doris Edelmann of Montgomery County Children Services, as primary adult facilitator of the Overcoming Hurdles in Ohio statewide foster care youth advisory board.

Recent Ohio YAB Events
July 28, Foster Care Panel for Capital Law School
Aug. 4, Adoptee Panel for Capital Law School
Aug 31, Lorain County YAB Training
Sept. 10, Workshop for NILA Conference
Sept. 24, Judicial Teleconference on Youth Voice in Court
Oct. 2, 2010 CASA Conference Youth Panel
Dec. 6, Disproportionality Symposium

2011 Ohio YAB Officers
President Cieria Rodriguez-Toney, Lorain
Media Spokesperson Dauntea Sledge, Franklin
Treasurer Traci Justice, Athens
Secretary Cheslie Akers, Miami
Parliamentarian Roneshia Finney, Montgomery
*Elections for Vice President will be held in January.

2011 Ohio YAB Meeting Dates
Jan. 20 at Lifeway for Youth, 3800 Lacon Drive
April 21 at ODJFS Air Center, 4020 E. Fifth Ave.
July 21, location TBA
Oct. 20, at ODJFS Air Center, 4020 E. Fifth Ave.

Ohio YAB Officers Retreat
Many thanks to the Dave Thomas Foundation for sponsoring the 2011 Ohio YAB Officers Retreat and the cost of food and beverages for youth during Ohio YAB Quarterly Meetings.

Spotlight on FCAA Ohio Members: Antonio Frierson



From the time that I have met Antonio (“Tone”) Frierson, I have found him to be steadfast, reliable and sincere. Tone is dedicated to the people he loves and the causes to which he has dedicated his heart. His deepest desire is to increase the amount of resources available for the Ohio’s 1,300 youth who “age out” of foster care each year.

I first met Antonio in 2008, at a teen event in Cleveland for teens in foster care. He and his fellow members of TAGyc, Cuyahoga County Children Services teen advisory group/youth council, were presenting an Orientation to Emancipation. One of the first things I noticed was the passion, energy and creativity of the activities, and Tone’s infectious sense of humor.

Our paths continued to cross during Teen Fairs for foster youth, annual FCAA Ohio Thanksgiving dinners for young people in and from foster care, and statewide Independent Living Summits. I watched Tone reaching out to younger foster care youth, and encouraging them to make good choices. I witnessed him advocating for better resources for young people transitioning from foster care to adulthood, particularly regarding housing.

As I grew to know Antonio better, I saw glimpses of his serious side. I heard him speak from the heart at events for foster youth. I saw his desire to constantly grow and learn new things. I witnessed his heartfelt appreciation and acknowledgement of every person who built into his life, including and especially Cuyahoga County caseworker, Seanine Cook.

This fall, as I listened to Antonio participate on a radio interview by Public News Service, I continued to be impressed by his positive attitude and vision for the future. Having benefitted from Seanine Cook’s role as a mentor in his life, Tone now wants to be a role model to foster youth, and to increase the circle of support available in each youth’s life.

I believe that Tone has the capacity to ignite a spark of passion and energy in every person he touches.

(But I'm still not sure why Tone looks like he is in heaven in this picture :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

2nd Annual Filling Family Portraits: Adoption Advocacy Event


Who: Adoption advocates, adoptive families, adoptees 
When: Tuesday, November 30th, 2010, from 12:30 - 1:30 p.m.
Where: The Ohio Statehouse, Atrium Room, 77 S. High St. Columbus OH 43215
Partners Included: OACCA, PCSAO, Ohio Adoption Planning Group, Adoption Network Cleveland, OFCA, Ohio CASA, ODJFS, Children's Defense Fund, National Center for Adoption Law and Policy, IHS, and Voices for Ohio's Children.


Speakers:
·         Rev. Johannes J. Christian
·      Amanda Dunlap, Foster Care Alumni of America Ohio chapter
·      State Senator Jon Husted
·      State Representative Linda Bolon
·      Michael and Michelle Morris, Adoptive Family
·      Cindy Deal, Northeast Ohio Adoption Services
·         Nikaeda Griffie, Summit County Children Services
·      Rita Sorenen, Dave Thomas Foundation

Did You Know?
Over 3,000 Ohio children are waiting to find permanent families.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Danny Taylor's Thanksgiving Poem (shared during NE Ohio Thanksgiving dinner)

Food for Thought by Danny Taylor, 11/20/10

Chew on this... you look left and right and see empty chairs
You talk about fun times over the year but silence only fills the air
You slouch down in your chair and no one scolds you and makes you sit up
A plate hits the floor and no one tell you to get up

I know. Hard to imagine, yet crazy as it seems
This is reality for some, at times even myself
To lie to myself and say all I need is myself
No dinner on the table... just another day I'm thankful for being able to see more misery

Grateful for feeling unwanted and not feeling a part of the family
Knowing and having it shoved in my face like the dressing
Stuffed like a turkey of thoughts so depressing
It shouldn't be like this!

Why is it like this?
Why can't I connect with you? Why can't you connect with me? Why is it like this?
How come my yams aren't so sweet?
The circumstances have delivered to me a plate of haha and playing in the street
Inside it's a little pink, outside it's barely brown
Yet it feels right knowing it's wrong but I just ignore how it sound

The fact is my heart isn't on this empty plate and fork
So naturally, of course,
I just lay my face on the napkin and fill it with tears
Those tears are shaped like the things I wish I had here

I know no one, and you treat me as the closet outcast
I wonder if I will outlast
Another year like this one here
And then it becomes clear

As I awake from my sleep, realizing I'm drifting on my past
Surely it didn't last
Surely this shouldn't happen to anyone; but it does
What can I do to change that?

I ask myself every day how can I build on this castle?
I want my brothers and sisters to have it better than me
Come forth, let your plate be stacked
Run around laughing, like you don't know how to act

Who said anything about misery?
I'm all smiles and giggles, come look at me
Looky! Looky! I got collard greens
And never had zucchini bread until I had some from the wonderful lady

Every time I take a bite, I savor the flavor and think how much better it taste around everyeone
Everything is better when you can do it with the people you cherish
No one wants to be left out, so why do we feel clothes and shelter make a home?
Why don't we think about those who spend Thanksgiving feeling alone?

Those who long to be wanted and loved
Thanksgiving is about more than turkey and cornbread, it's about cherishing those you love
Family is taken for granted until they're gone
A person can have three people in their circle, but yet fill up a church when they croak

In a time where peace of mind has a price limit
But peace and love have no bounds or limits
We may not be able to give a dollar, but at least give a care
And thank about what you would do if you had no one to share

Simply because you was the only one sitting at that empty table
Trying to be thankful in your heart but unable
And we so quick to say, it can always be worse - yeah, true, but it can always be better
So does that make me selfish because I want more and to have better

All right, the next time you have a Thanksgiving and struggle with a prayer for the cross
Think about all those chairs and plates being bare...
Now that, my friend, is Food for Thought.

~ Danny Taylor

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

2010 Southwest Ohio FCAA Thanksgiving



The Southwest Ohio FCAA Thanksgiving was made possible by:
Decorations were donated by Kroger, and the beautiful table arrangements made possible by Val Bairnsfather.

Channel 12 and Fox News stopped by to capture some of the excitement.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Special 2010 PCSAO Volunteer Recognitions

  Left to right: Lisa Dickson and Paula Kyle, both foster care alumni

Over the years, Lisa Dickson has been such a wonderful and fresh force in the world of child welfare. Her tireless energy and willingness to promote the cause of better policy, practice and supports for our foster children an youth has been unparalleled. Lisa has particularly invested in supporting our youth in their higher educational pursuits, facilitating the Ohio Reach activities.

In her role as FCAA-OH Communications Chair, Lisa actively spreads the word that there are other foster alums, and welcomes participation by all – in fact she is coordinating three Thanksgiving Dinners this year, to be held regionally so more youth and adults can attend and enjoy. And of course Lisa has provided much insight to professionals about the trauma of foster care, and how to tap into the resiliency and potential of our youth.

Finally, many youth have felt personal value, worth and confidence due to Lisa’s personal interaction with them, and it has allowed them to do things they might not have had the courage to do without your support.


Paula Kyle first contacted PCSAO to review a manuscript she was in the process of getting published – sounded like Hollywood activities. On the Edge of Unthinkable is an engrossing page turner about the author’s experience in foster care.

And the perspective was a surprise – it was not a heartbreaker over the tragedy of the child welfare experience, but an inspiration through the light shown on those child welfare professionals and a loving foster family who made the difference in this person’s life.

Many of you will remember Judith Goodhand, who started as a child welfare worker in Knox County, spent time at Lucas Children Services, was later the Director at the Cuyahoga County agency, before serving as a national consultant with the Annie E. Casey Foundation – she is featured fondly in this story.

Thanks to Paula Kyle, many child welfare professionals realize the value of their work, and the importance of excellence and dedication to see that every child and youth we touch has permanent and sustaining connections. Paula has since become a speaker in great demand, her book has had multiple printings, and it has been drafted as a screenplay. I guess it may be Hollywood time after all!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

2010 FCAA Ohio Thanksgiving(s)


Every year, Foster Care Alumni of America's Ohio chapter holds a Thanksgiving event for foster care youth, alumni, adult supporters and ally organizations.

This November, we are holding THREE Thanksgiving events:
  • To overcome transportation barriers, so that more foster care youth/alumni can attend
  • To continue building up regional networks to Connect & Transform
  • To truly hold a statewide celebration that reaches as many foster care youth and alumni as possible
1.) SOUTHWEST OHIO THANKSGIVING

The Southwest Ohio Thanksgiving will take place in Cincinnati:
  • Sunday, November 14, 2010, from noon - 3 pm
  • The Phoenix, 812 Race Street, Cincinnati OH 45202
Lead Facilitator: Amy Roberts
Sponsors include: Cincinnati Works, Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Bob Mecum of Lighthouse Youth Services and Richter & Phillips Jewelers

2.) NORTHEAST OHIO THANKSGIVING

The Northeast Ohio Thanksgiving will take place in Cleveland:
  • Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010, from 1-3 pm
  • Antioch Baptist Church, 8869 Cedar Ave., Cleveland OH 44016
Lead Facilitator: Zelma Brown
Sponsors include: Cuyahoga County Children Services, Village Network

3.) CENTRAL/SOUTHEAST OHIO THANKSGIVING

The Central/Southeast Ohio Thanksgiving will take place in Columbus:
  • Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010, from 1-5:30 pm
  • Schneider Multi-purpose Room, 1 College & Main, Capital University, Bexley OH
Lead Facilitator: Gabriel Koshinsky
Sponsors include: Capital University ROTC: Crusader Battalion, Kappa Sigma Upsilon, Village Network, Starr Commonwealth and Franklin County Children Services.

Please stay tuned for additional details....

2010 FCAA Thanksgiving Sponsors

The Ohio chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America greatly appreciates the many sponsors who have stepped forward this fall to make ALL THREE Thanksgiving events happen!


  • Ohio CASA provided decorations for all three Thanksgiving events.




  • Stay tuned for additional information about our fabulous sponsors....

Cleveland Foster Care Alumni and Allies

Seanine Cook, an Independent Living caseworker with Cuyahoga County Child and Family Services, was recently awarded 2010 Ohio Child Protection Worker of the Year by the Public Children Services Association of Ohio.


Along with two Cuyahoga County foster care alumni, Tone Frierson and Romero Smith, Seanine recently participated in the following radio interview:

Kuhlman, Mary. Entering Adulthood a Lonely Road for Hundreds of Ohio Youth. Public News Service: Ohio, October 11, 2010.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

2010 Judicial Teleconference on Youth Voice in Court



Agenda:

  • Introduction of Topic and Panel Members
  • Magistrate shared the history of youth involvement in court and how this plays out in practice
  • Foster Care Alumni Panel
  • Questions from the audience


Youth Panel Questions:


  1. Please tell us a little bit about your experience in foster care…
  2. Were you able to attend one/more court hearings? If so was it helpful? Were you prepared ahead of time?
  3. If not, what was it like not knowing what goes on in court? What information about your case did you want the judge/magistrate to know?
  4. How is hearing from youth in person different from hearing from their CASA or caseworker?
  5. What would you tell a judge or magistrate who was on the fence about including youth in hearings?

Additional Questions:

a.) Are all hearings equal, or are some hearings more important than others? (i.e. placement decision/change in case/general review with no change)

b.) Should they make exceptions based upon:

  • The child’s age?
  • What a young person wants?
  • If they think the child/teen isn’t emotionally ready?
  • If the logistics are inconvenient? (long drive for adult/long wait for child)
  • Whether or not the court is kid-friendly? (or teen-friendly)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Superintendent Delisle quotes Alex McFarland

The Office for Exceptional Children held their annual Special Education Leadership Conference yesterday afternoon and Superintendent Deborah Delisle provided the keynote address.

In her closing, she mentioned that she had come from a meeting with the OFCF Cabinet Council, where she heard from an amazing youth who had previously been in foster care. She proceeded to share Alex McFarland’s story as an example of the difference that one teacher can make in the life of a child, especially one that others may have overlooked or given up on.

Kara Waldron of the Office for Exceptional Children relates:

"Alex’s story was truly an inspiration to our crowd of more than 1,700. We are grateful for the work that he continues to do on behalf of Ohio’s youth. Without Alex McFarland, Adrian McLemore, and their counterparts, we might forget the meaning behind our efforts."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

FCAA Ohio Fall Newsletter

The Fall newsletter of the Ohio chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America is now available...

(Please click on the box on the far right to view at full-size)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

FCAA Ohio included among State Partners for Ohio's Child Protective System


The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services' Office of Families and Children (OFC) has been awarded a federal grant to develop a new model for how the state works with the many stakeholders that support Ohio's child protection system.

Over the next three and a half years, the Office will be working in partnership with the Midwest Child Welfare Implementation Center to design and implement this model. An important part of this work is the formation of an Advisory Committee: Partners for Ohio's Families.

The Ohio chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America is proud to be a part of this committee as a voting member. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Investing in the future of Foster Care Youth Advisory Boards in Ohio




  • The Ohio chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America is proud to volunteer as primary adult facilitator of the Overcoming Hurdles in Ohio statewide foster care youth advisory board.
  • We greatly appreciate the support that ODJFS, PCSAO, OHILA, OACCA, OCWTP, county children services agencies and the Supreme Court of Ohio have provided, and continue to provide Ohio foster care youth.
  • Recently, Adrian McLemore wrote an article titled: "Honoring Our Beginnings," in which he expressed gratitude and appreciation on behalf of Ohio's foster care youth for the support that the Ohio YAB has received since its inception.  
  • Now, more than ever, with tight budgets and limited resources, Ohio's emancipating foster care youth NEED support, empowerment and preparation!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Upcoming Opportunities for Foster Care Youth and Alumni Involvement

YOUTH/ALUMNI PANEL
July 28, Foster care panel for Capital Law School ICWI in Columbus
Aug. 4, Adoptee panel for Capital Law School ICWI in Columbus

FALL CONFERENCES
Aug. 11, Southwest Independent Living Summit in Cincinnati
Sept. 24, Judicial College video teleconference in Columbus
Oct. 2, Youth Panel at Ohio CASA conference in Columbus
Oct. 29, Northeast Independent Living Summit in Canton

FUTURE STATE ADVOCACY OPPORTUNITIES
Ready to Launch: Ohio Gubernatorial Campaigns
State budget: Promote use of WIA and ODE funds for transitional foster youth
OACCA compilation of potential ODJFS budget areas that might be at-risk
OCOG funds (Demos/Policy Matters Ohio)

OHIO BUDGET PLANNING AND MANAGEMENT COMMISSION
• This budget committee is tasked with understanding the magnitude of the budget deficit and to discuss general strategies.
• Some of the committee members will be on the House and Senate budget committee in 2011.
• It’s important that committee members are informed about the importance of funding for foster youth.
• Foster care youth and alumni will need to arrange meetings with individual committee members.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day, Adrian!

Uncle takes on role of dad to keep family together
Wynn, Kelli. Dayton Daily News, June 19, 2010.


Adrian McLemore with his niece and nephew Arayiah McLemore, 3 and Tyiaun Jones, 1, play guitar and sing to Tina Turner in their home in Trotwood. McLemore grew up in Montgomery County’s foster care system. In order to prevent his niece and nephew from becoming wards of the county due to a family crisis, McLemore took custody of the children.


TROTWOOD — In December 2009, Montgomery County officials gave Adrian McLemore two options: Take custody of his sister’s two children or let them enter the foster care system until their mother’s life improved.

McLemore knew that one day he might be faced with this decision given his sister’s background, but hoped this day would not come. The Trotwood resident loves his family and considers himself a brother and uncle who would always come to his family’s rescue in a time of need. But being a full-time surrogate father was not a part of his original life plan. Like his mentors said, this would be a great responsibility for a 23-year-old bachelor enrolled in college and managing a video store.

The decision to take custody of 3-year-old Arayiah and 1-year-old Tyiaun was not about what would interrupt McLemore’s life, but rather stopping the beginning of a family trend. “I refuse to let a second generation of the McLemores be in foster care,” he said.

McLemore, now 24, and his two sisters spent most of their childhood in foster care. They entered the system in Georgia as their mother battled alcoholism. The siblings ended up in Georgia after their mother moved them there from Florida following a divorce from their father in 1992.

The McLemore siblings would not be reunited with their father until 1995. Adrian McLemore was about to be put up for adoption when Ernest McLemore, who was serving in the U.S. Air Force, obtained custody and moved his children to Las Vegas. They lived with their father for two years before he announced that he had received an assignment overseas and gave them the option of moving to Ohio to live with their mother again. The children moved back with their mother, a decision that has Adrian and his older sister Britney McLemore, 24, asking themselves today, “what if?”

All three siblings were in and out of Daybreak, an emergency shelter for runaway and homeless youths, from 1999 to 2000.

At one point, Adrian McLemore did not want to return home, so shelter officials called Montgomery County Children Services, who placed him and his sisters in foster care. Britney and Adrian aged out of the system at age 18, and their younger sister, Devanna, was placed in Britney’s custody once Britney turned 21. At the time, Devanna was pregnant with Arayiah, who would have also become a ward of the county had Devanna remained in foster care.

Meanwhile, Ernest McLemore died in 2004 in Georgia at age 40 after suffering from brain cancer. His children were still in foster care.

Even though his time with his children was short, Ernest McLemore was a big influence. Adrian hopes that all the positive things that he learned from his father will help him while his niece and nephew are in his custody.

One of the messages that McLemore said he hopes his actions will send to Arayiah and Tyiaun is that “a man loves his child no matter what” and provides emotional and financial support for his family.


“I am convinced that I made the right decision based on where they are now — as far as development — compared to where they were the day I picked them up,” he said.

“I love them to death. I want to show them that I am here to play, to hug or discipline... Just to be there.”

Although McLemore’s experience in foster care has been mostly positive, he still said he feels “foster care is no system for children.”

He also didn’t like the idea of his niece and nephew potentially being placed in separate foster homes without a familiar face.

“Having a second generation of our family in foster care is unthinkable to me and I wouldn’t allow it,” he said.

Devanna McLemore, 21, was the one who suggested to county officials in 2009 that her brother take custody of her children. She currently has weekly visits with them and her next custody hearing is scheduled for January.

This year, Father’s Day takes on a whole different meaning to Adrian McLemore. He believes his father would be proud of the decision he made. “I could have continued to do what I wanted to do. But instead, I now do what I have to do.”

Friday, June 18, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

FCAA Volunteer of the Year Award

Foster Care Alumni of America honors Lisa Dickson
Aurand, Lisa. ThisWeek, May 12, 2010.

When Lisa Dickson "aged out" of foster care at 16, she had a myriad of people who became her advocates.

The list included the English teacher who wrote a "rousing" recommendation for her college acceptance, the University of Kentucky admissions counselor who marched her over to financial aid and said, "This girl needs grants," the residents of the Methodist dormitory who became her "family" when she moved in after a year of homelessness.

Now Lisa is fighting for other foster care alumni to have the same chances at success she did.

"The people who were there for me are what motivate me," Dickson said. "All the things that I do now are because of them."

Dickson was named one of four Foster Care Alumni of America Volunteers of the Year in this, the awards' first year. She was a founding member of the group, and is the communications chair for its Ohio Chapter.

She was in foster care in Kentucky from ages 12 to 16 after her mother died, and was able to start classes at the University of Kentucky at age 16.

By 17, Dickson was homeless, but still attending college. It wasn't until she was 18 that she began living in the Methodist dormitory. She tried five different majors and was in college for 10 years, finishing by earning a master's degree in library science.

She was offered a job in Columbus in 1999, met and married her husband, Nathan Dickson, in 2000. They moved to Westerville in 2001, where they live with his two daughters, Rachel, 19, and Carly, 17.

Dickson, a Children's Librarian, said she spends about 40 hours a week volunteering for FCAA. The local chapter focuses on assisting the approximately 1,300 Ohio youths who age out of foster care each year.

"The top two things we do are connect and transform," she said.

The group helps foster care alumni connect with other former foster children, wherever they live.

For the past several years, the group has hosted an annual Thanksgiving dinner, an event that began when foster alumni from all over the country met in Washington, D.C., to talk to federal legislators about federal child welfare financial reform.

"We said we were coming home for the holidays," Dickson said.

The "transform" part of the group's mission involves lobbying on behalf of foster children making the transition to life on their own. Dickson was one of several foster care alumni who testified in front of the state legislature last year, asking members not to cut funding for programs that teach older foster care children how to live on their own.

Though the funding was approved by the Ohio House of Representatives and Senate, it was vetoed by Gov. Ted Strickland, Dickson said. But one good thing came out of that news: Dickson and a few of her colleagues were asked to be part of Strickland's Taskforce for Youth and Young Adults in Transition.

The two biggest needs for fosters in transition are housing and health insurance, Dickson said.

"One in four homeless adults is a former foster," she said.

Even those who end up going to college still struggle with housing and finances, she said.

"Most college kids, when they have (financial) trouble, they call mom and dad. But there is no mom and dad to call (for foster children)," Dickson said.

And though the recently passed federal health care bill will eventually mandate insurance for former fosters, that coverage won't take effect until 2014, she said.

Dickson, who recently was engaged as FCAA's volunteer social media coordinator, said she won't stop her quest to help fosters the way others helped her.

"I love the kicking-butt part and trying to make a difference," she said. "(The people who helped me) were there for me and cared for me. I want that for everyone."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Alex McFarland named 2010 FosterClub Outstanding Young Leader

Alexander McFarland has served as President of Ohio's statewide foster care youth advocacy board (Ohio YAB) for two years. When the Ohio YAB lost its funding and supportive staff, Alex immediately began advocating for alternative funds, and succeeded in attaining a grant for 25K that will support the continued existence of not only the statewide board, but county and regional foster youth advisory boards as well. He has traveled throughout the state of Ohio to help create and develop youth advisory boards.

Alex has served as the Legislative Liaison for the Ohio chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America for two years. He participated in the 2008 Alumni , the 2009 anniversary of Chafee funding, and presented a workshop at the 2009 NILA Conference. Alex was chosen by Ohio's First Lady to represent the needs of Ohio's foster care youth on Governor Strickland's 2010 .

Alex is known throughout the state for his vision and determination. He testified before Ohio legislators to advocate for the restoration of the state Independent Living Allocation. He arranged for Ohio foster care youth, alumni and allies to visit 24 legislator’s offices in order to promote Ready to Launch, a reminder to Ohio legislators of a front-end investment in transitional youth.

Alex is committed to supporting the national foster care youth/alumni community. During the 2009 NILA conference, he arranged a meeting of representatives from the Colorado, Tennessee and Ohio chapter in order to network and share ideas. He continues to keep in touch with FCAA members in Colorado, in order to be a support to them as they build their chapter.

Finally, Alex is a strong advocate of education reform. He is an active participant in Ohio Reach, a statewide initiative to increase the number of foster care youth who enroll in and graduate from college. In 2009, he participated in the statewide Ohio Reach Summit, including serving on the panel of youth voices. Alex’s words and passion resonated with participants, which included 100 social workers and 100 higher education representatives.

Alex uses his experiences from his entire life, when he was officially in foster care and even before that, as well as all the experiences from the youth he interacts with on a daily basis, to help shape solutions for Ohio’s foster youth. Whether he is on the field in a legislator’s office, at school studying Biology, or working as a Assistant Manager for Jack’s Aquarium and Pets, Alex strives to help the Children, Foster Youth, Former Foster Youth and pets of his community.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Governor's Steering Committee on Transitional Youth and Young Adults

 

During 2010, FCAA Ohio officers Alex McLemore, Adrian McLemore, Doris Edelmann and Lisa Dickson participated in the Ohio Family and Children First Youth and Young Adults in Transition Steering Committee.

The committee was convened by Governor Strickland to recommend alignment and consolidation of policies, efforts, and resources and to identify major gaps for this particularly vulnerable and often overlooked population: vulnerable youth and young adults, ages 14-25.

After months of meetings, the committee has released its final report. We were very excited to learn that the Ohio Family and Children First Cabinet Council accepted all of our recommendations.The report may accessed here.

Lisa Dickson and Alex McFarland of Foster Care Alumni of America Ohio chapter agreed to co-chair the implementation committee on Empowering Youth and Families with Tools for Successful Transition.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Save the Date: May 22, 2010


Message from the Purple Project:

The Purple Project, would like to invite your agency and teens in care, to attend “Finishing The Journey,” Aging  Out of Today’s Foster Care System, a youth conference in Cleveland, Ohio  May 22, 2010. This is a  great opportunity for teens!  

Guest Speakers will include Emmy award winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Legend Darryl “DMC” McDaniels from the pioneer group RUN DMC, County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones, and Philanthropist-Foster Care Alumni and Advocates Tanya Cooper and Tanisha Cunningham


Please contact the Purple Project at (216) 269-6667, email youth@thepurpleproject.com or visit us atwww.thepurpleproject.com if you have any questions or need assistance registering.  

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lisa Dickson and Zelma Brown named 2010 Triad Advocates of the Year


Adoption Triad Advocate: An individual or group who has made a significant contribution to the adoption or foster care field as demonstrated by a specific accomplishment, project, program or milestone during the year, meeting one of more of the following criteria:


  • Contributed through exceptional volunteer efforts
  • Influenced the wider community through their advocacy and outreach efforts
  • Improved the lives of individual children and teens awaiting adoption
  • Enhanced the experiences of adoption triad members by providing information, advocacy or other support


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

We Can Do Better for Ohio's 3,000 Waiting Children



"I aged out of foster care in 1989 - but it wasn't until over a decade later, in the year 2000, that my picture frame was finally filled." (At this point Lisa held up her wedding photo). "I was 27 years old when I married my husband, and finally became a legal member of a forever family.”

Our children shouldn't have to wait that long. We can do so much better for the young people in and from foster care today. Every year, over a thousand Ohio youth "age out" of the foster care system without being connected with forever families.”

"When I married my husband, I became a stepmother to his two beautiful daughters. We've been married for ten years now, and I learn more every day about what it's like to love two children who are not biologically my daughters - but whom I love more than anything.”

"As I watch my stepdaughters enter their teenage years, and young adulthood, I know that my husband and I will be there for them no matter what. They won't face the uncertainty that I faced as a child.”

"They will know that they are loved. They will know that they are safe. They will know that they have a place to belong to.”

"If they make a mistake while budgeting in college, they won't be homeless. If the road is difficult, I won't pull over the car, and tell them to get out. They will know that, even during the hard times, my love will still be there.”

"There are more than 3,000 children in Ohio who are waiting for that kind of assurance and certainty today.”

"Right now, at this moment, is an opportunity to fill their picture frames with our love. Our consistency. Our perseverance.”

"We who are here today have the strength to love, and the confidence to let adoptees tell us their story. We can build pictures of the future, and face pictures of the past. We can open our hearts and our homes, and provide FOREVER.”

Lisa Dickson, Communications Chair of Foster Care Alumni of America's Ohio chapter, speaks from the heart at the Nov. 6th Adoption Rally “Filling Family Portraits” on the Statehouse Steps. OACCA Weekly, Nov. 9, 2009.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Resources for Ohio Youth Aging Out of Foster Care

Employment

Food
  • Go with the young person to apply for food stamps, or accompany him or her to the nearest Food Bank.
  • Here's a list of Food Banks in Ohio.

GED

Healthcare
  • Foster care youth who "age out" of the system can receive Medicaid until age 21.
  • Navigating the adult Medicaid system can be challenging.
  • Don't assume that the staff at the Medicaid office will be aware of this program -- bring a copy of the flyer.

Higher Ed
  • Ohio Reach is a statewide initiative to increase the number of foster care youth who enroll in and graduate from college.
  • A good place to start in choosing a college is to look over the list of Ohio Reach Campus Liaisons.

Housing

Legal Assistance

Literacy

Mental Health
  • Each Ohio county has a Mental Health Board, and it's up to us to advocate for specific services for transitioning foster care youth.
  • It's important to be aware that former foster youth suffer from PTSD at a rate twice that of Vietnam war veterans.

Parenting

Phone Bills

Social Security

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Spotlight on FCAA Ohio Members: Sarah Callihan


If you were to ask me to come up with one word to describe Sarah Callihan, that word would be Determination: “Firmness of purpose.”

Sarah is determined to change the outcomes of foster care youth – and she began first by building a successful young adult life of her own.

After “aging out” of foster care, Sarah was the first person in her immediate family to obtain a college degree and go on to graduate school. She earned a 4.0 last quarter. Sarah plans to use her Criminal Justice degree to become both a college professor and victim/youth advocate. She’d like to eventually go to law school and to attain her MSW, as well as becoming a foster/adoptive parent for teens.

Sarah benefited greatly from the independent living courses provided to her before she turned 18 years old. The life skills that she learned helped her to transition smoothly into college life, and be self-reliant when setting up a bank account. When Ohio’s state funding for Independent Living services was in jeopardy, Sarah testifed before the Ohio House of Representatives to advocate for this funding to be reinstated.

One of Sarah’s dreams is to create a safe place in Dayton neighborhoods for community members to go when they are in need of help and safety.

Sarah’s writing has been published by EMK Press in a book for teen adoptees titled, Pieces of Me: What Do I Want to Be, and she is also scheduled to have her writing published in Rhonda Sciortino’s From Foster Care to Anywhere publication sometime this year.