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Monday, March 19, 2012

Foster Care Alumni Contributions to the Ohio Child Welfare Training Program (OCWTP)

Lamar Graham's recent article for the Ohio Child Welfare Training Program's Common Ground newsletter:

Meet Foster Care Alumni Trainer Lamar Graham
Lamar is currently serving a second year as an AmeriCorps member with Hands-On Central Ohio, where he is responsible for getting people excited about service and also recruiting volunteers for service projects. 

We asked Lamar to give us some insight into what youth need to be prepared for independent living.

What is one of your specific advocacy areas related to foster care?


Can you give some examples of why this area needs reform?

Many students finish high school with no idea of the career path they want to follow.

I feel students should leave high school with at least four possible career options. They should know which careers require additional education, and understand the steps needed to be successful in the career they choose.

If students have a clearer understanding of what they would like to accomplish after high school, they would save time and use financial aid more wisely.

How can caseworkers/foster caregivers/adoptive parents better equip foster youth in this area?

Each stakeholder listed above should understand their role clearly and know exactly how their role ties in with the success of foster youth.

Caseworkers/foster caregivers/adoptive parents should coordinate a plan with the youth, outlining specific goals the youth may want to accomplish.  

By scheduling regular meetings to discuss and monitor the youth's progress, many future challenges can be avoided.  

What are some creative ideas regarding how this information might be shared in a workshop setting?

I recommend the following: 

1.  The training (or series of trainings) should start with a joint session with foster youth, caseworkers, foster caregivers/adoptive parents. 

2.  Each "role" should then have their own session (foster youth, caseworker, foster caregivers/adoptive parents)

3.  There should be rotation in which two groups are paired up and the third is by itself:

    -Youth will work alone, while foster caregivers /adoptive parents and caseworker work together
     -Caseworker will work alone, while youth and foster caregivers/adoptive parents work together
     -Foster caregivers /adoptive parents will work alone, while youth and caseworker work together 

4.  Everyone comes back together for a large group session

Lamar holds an Associate Degree in Business Management from Columbus State Community College and a Bachelor's Degree in Organizational Management from Wilberforce University. Lamar's future plans include becoming a professional speaker, trainer, and coach to help people become the best person they can become.

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