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Friday, April 9, 2021

Friday filled with fabulous opportunities

Ohio foster care youth and alumni had a beautiful whirlwind of a Friday, with several amazing opportunities in one day.

1.) We began with a morning meeting with Representative Russo regarding the establishment of a Youth Ombudsman’s Office. Participants included OHIO YAB President Roman Sandhu, Jermaine Ferguson, Juliana Barton, Jeremy Collier, Antonio Sledge, Lisa Dickson, Doris Edelman, and Kim Eckhart. Jermaine Ferguson’s legislative connections and prior networking with the Children’s Caucus brought great value to today’s legislative meeting.

2.) Next, we facilitated a training for the Ohio Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. Participants included financial aid administrators from all over the state. The training was facilitated by Tina Jacob of Ohio Reach, Lisa Dickson of ACTION Ohio, and Ohio Reach Peer Mentors Kyajah Rodriguez, Cloe Cooper, Amadea Jennings and Lamar Graham. 

It felt like coming full circle that Director of Financial Aid John Brown at Capital University is dedicated helping to champion the needs of foster youth on campus, since Capital University was also the site of our 2009-2012 Thanksgiving Together celebrations. As today’s training came to an end, Director Brown stressed that, “We don’t want this to be a one and done thing - this is an ongoing partnership.”  

3.) Afterwards, we had a call with Kerstin Sjoberg, the Executive Director of Disability Rights Ohio, and Ohio Long-Term Care Ombudsman Beverly Laubert, which was made possible thanks to Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio. Excellent insights were shared. 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

ACTION Ohio included in Imprint article about pandemic relief funds for former foster youth

Roman Sandhu, Jonathan Thomas, Doris Edelmann and Lisa Dickson participated in an Imprint interview on February 23, 2021. Our goal was to share that it is of utmost importance that these Chafee pandemic relief funds get to “aged out” foster youth between 22-26 years old between now and September 30th

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Antonio Sledge teaches a cooking class at Scholar House 3


Antonio Sledge, former foster youth and founder of LeSledge Catering, volunteered his time to teach current and future residents of Columbus Scholar House for Former Foster Youth. 

Designed by foster youth themselves, this dorm serves full-time and part-time students ages 18-24 with a foster care history.

Cloe Cooper and Juliana Barton recognized for International Women's Day 2021

Cloe Cooper and Juliana Barton were recognized by Ohio CASA for International Women's Day.

Read more here...

Monday, March 8, 2021

Virtual meeting with Deputy Director Jeff Van Deusen today


Today's virtual meeting with Deputy Director Jeff Van Deusen of the ODJFS Office for Families and Children went great... 

Participants included: Roman Sandhu, Jonathon Thomas, Raven Grice, Makayla Lang, and Alexys Madero of the OHIO YAB, and foster care alumni Amanda Davis, Nikki Chinn, Jaye Turner, Jasmine Hardy and Lisa Dickson.

Two quotes from today's meeting:

  • About the need for an Ombudsman's Office: "In my experience, abusive adults charm themselves out of situations, and if the report is not substantiated, the abuse will increase. This is why establishing this office is imperative." ~ Jonathan Thomas

  • About the need to Make Every Training Hour Count: "The foster parent thinks the caseworker is preparing the young person for adulthood, and the caseworker thinks the foster parent is doing it. The private agency thinks the public children welfare agency is doing this, and vice versa."

Two quotes from the Deputy Director:
  • "If I could, I would be on a call like this every hour of my day. I wish I had cleared my calendar for three hours for today's phone call. Let's schedule more regular calls in the future."
  • "It is crucial not to make decisions about people without people. We need to make sure not only to establish a Foster Youth Ombudsman's Office, but to have it operate to effectively meet the need - and your input is what is needed."


Friday, March 5, 2021

The OHIO YAB and ACTION Ohio participated on a national webinar

  Here are some of the slides we shared on March, 3, 2021:

Friday, February 26, 2021

Raven Grice interview with Ohio News Network


OHIO YAB Ambassador Raven Grice participated in an interview with Mary Kuhlman, which was published on February 24, 2021:

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Foster-care advocacy groups are hoping federal and state leaders move quickly on COVID relief for older foster kids.

The "Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act" is part of the second federal stimulus package signed into law in December. It allows states to extend the age limit for programs to help young people as they transition out of foster care, and increases federal "Chafee" funding, which supports housing, food and other immediate needs.

Lisa Dickson, co-facilitator of the Ohio Youth Advisory Board, said these are huge wins for foster youths, who often enter adulthood without much financial or emotional support.

"And also if, due to COVID, they're struggling and meeting the work and school requirement," she said, "it gives them a little leeway and understands that it's not that easy to stay connected to resources in the middle of an international pandemic."

On Monday, The U.S. Children's Bureau released more than $13 million in Chafee funding to Ohio, and said other awards and supplemental amounts will be announced soon. Dickson said Ohio's local and state leaders need to distribute the funding quickly, since some of the provisions expire in September.

Former foster youth Raven Grice said that while her dorm housing at Cleveland State University is covered by a scholarship, housing stability still is a concern.

"That portion of time - of 'I don't know where I'm going to go' - it's frightening," she said, "and I know that I'm not the only person who has to deal with this. There's thousands of youths across the entire state who have to deal with this because of the pandemic."

The act contains a permanent provision to allow foster youths to start the process of requesting housing assistance before they turn 18. It actually was written with the help of young Ohioans, who traveled to the nation's capital for eight years in a row to work with lawmakers.

Grice also is a member of the Ohio Youth Advisory Board, which is calling for a new national hotline to help foster youths in need of assistance as a result of the pandemic. She said better coordination of information also is needed at the state and local levels.

"If we have resources already listed out, for the youth to be given when they're aging out," she said, "it'd be so much more useful than, 'Oh, you're aged out now. Bye.' That's basically what it seems like."

Roughly one in four young adults leaving foster care experiences homelessness by age 21.