The three topics we discussed with with Director Kim Hall of ODJFS on Friday, Dec. 13, 2019 were:
1.) The need for every Ohio county to provide adequate independent living preparation for teens in foster care, as per state and federal law, and to utilize Chafee funding with a focus on improving outcomes for youth. We shared the negative impact that the “one worker” model has had on independent living preparation, and the desire to maintain IL departments/experts in every Ohio county. We also shared concerns that caseworkers and foster parents aren’t required to take specific training on resources to support foster youth transitioning into young adulthood.
When it comes to training requirements for foster parents and caseworkers, there is big push by foster parents to reduce training hours and move to more accessible training methods such as online. But our discussion was the first mention that Director Hall had heard regarding foster parents and caseworkers who serve teens not currently being required to taking trainings about available resources to help young people transition successfully to young adulthood.
2. The need for normalcy training and safety requirements for group homes and residential placements. Why is normalcy is included in Ohio Revised Code, but not Ohio Administrative Code? Could this be changed in order to translate the law (ORC) into rules that will actually positively impact procedure (OAC)?
3. Appreciation for the statewide Fostering Pathways to Success Conference, and desire to include foster care youth and alumni voice in conference planning. We also talked with her about FSHO and FYI vouchers.
Director Hall's helpful suggestions were that we:
1.) Email Director Kristi Burre's office all of the details we shared with her
2.) Each make the time to testify at one of the Foster Care Forums
3.) Find out how many Ohio counties have switched to the "one worker" model
5.) Seek to identify one or more Ohio counties that is doing a great job with FYI vouchers, and partner with PCSAO to promote their work as a role model to other counties
(We are working on items 1, 3 and 4 this morning).
PS - We didn’t talk with Director Hall about the need for a Foster Care Ombudsman’s Office, because this project has been delegated to Director Kristi Burre’s office. But it would be a great topic to mention at the Foster Care Forums -- this was one of Governor DeWine’s campaign promises, but they still don’t have a timeline yet for when or how they will be rolling it out. Sometimes things need a squeaky wheel (like us) to get them to move forward.
Ohio Foster Care Youth and Alumni Leadership Pipeline
Alumni of Care Together Improving Outcomes Now Ohio (ACTION Ohio) is dedicated to improving outcomes for current and former foster care youth.
We 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.
One of our primary goals is to create an ongoing, sustainable Foster Care Youth and Alumni Leadership Pipeline.