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Thursday, February 25, 2016

As shared in OACCA's Jan. 5, 2016 newsletter

Introducing A.C.T.I.O.N. Ohio


For the past decade, OACCA has proudly partnered with foster care youth and alumni groups in Ohio.  Under the leadership of Lisa Dickson, a statewide chapter of the Foster Care Alumni of America was established in Ohio in 2006.  Over time, the group has grown in membership, leadership, and overall impact. With the goal of long-term sustainability, Ohio foster care alumni efforts are transitioning into a statewide organization.

Alumni of Care Together Improving Outcomes Now Ohio (ACTION Ohio) is a state-based, membership-driven group, dedicated to improving outcomes for current and former foster care youth. This new group exists to bring together the voices of youth, alumni and allies to create lasting change and generate hope for current and former foster youth, based on access to resources, ally support and alumni expertise. OACCA serves as fiscal agent and is eager to continue our partnership with them.

Ohio foster care alumni have achieved enormous success over the past ten years. They provided leadership to a foster care policy initiative that led to the formation of Ohio Reach. They assisted OACCA in facilitating Independent Living Summits from 2007-2010, and then utilized what they learned from our leadership to host a Career and Entrepreneurship Event in 2011. Beginning in 2012, Ohio foster care alumni assisted with the planning and execution of ODJFS Connecting the Dots and Fostering Pathways to Success conferences.

In the spirit of “nothing about us, without us,” Ohio foster care alumni have successfully advocated for changes to state foster care law, funding, and regulations. They helped establish the statewide youth advisory board for young people between ages 14-24, and several county youth boards as well.  Along the way, they also created their own signature programs, most notably, Suits for Success and the regional Thanksgiving Dinners for Foster Youth and Alumni.

Ohio foster care alumni efforts remain focused on improving long-term outcomes for their younger brothers and sisters of the foster care system.  As adults, ACTION Ohio representatives had time to reflect upon their childhood and teenage experiences and make sense of them. Because of their experiences, they are uniquely aware of the challenges faced by young people in and from foster care. In some cases, this insight has dictated their professional careers. Regardless of their field of study, ACTION Ohio representatives remain dedicated to maintain previous programs, and to expand for even greater impact. They recently partnered with OSU to facilitate a “College for a Day” event for 40+ foster care teens, and are currently planning ahead for similar events at both OSU and Ohio University in 2016.

If you’d like to learn more about ACTION Ohio, please contact their Training and Development Coordinator, Jamole Callahan, and/or Communications Chair, Lisa Dickson.  The general email address is: info@fosteractionohio.org.

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