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Sunday, February 10, 2008

State of the Board Address by Adrian McLemore

Photograph of President Adrian McLemore of the Ohio statewide youth advisory board and President Kierra Williams of Montgomery County's VISION board.

The state of our board is well as can be expected for it to be for our first year of existence. We have accomplished a lot of our goals during our first year; and have laid the groundwork for future boards to follow.

We set high goals for this organization, and I have no doubt that we will achieve them. We told the United States Congress that it’s time to reform the foster care system. We told them that it’s time to start acting like our parents, and I strongly believe they got the message.

We told the Ohio Legislature that we needed health care past the age of 18. They disagreed at first, but after we testified again and stressed the importance, they passed the law – and now every child in foster care has the opportunity to have health coverage until the age of 21.

We traveled the state, spreading the message of improving the foster care system, and our voices have not gone unheard. We have attended countless conferences and sat on numerous panels, discussing the issues that concern us most. We have stood in front of agency directors and told them how child welfare policies need to be updated or changed altogether.

As you can see, we have done a lot this year, but all of our success would not be possible if not for the help of youth and adult supporters alike...

As we move forward, we must focus on what lies ahead. We have one foot in the door already, and we must step through it.

We must receive our 5013c status in the coming year, to solidify our legitimacy in the state of Ohio. We must fight for teen mothers in foster care, and for better treatment in group homes across the state. We must fight for tuition waivers so that we may further our education. We must fight for better foster parent training, and develop a statewide handbook so that the entire state is on par.

To the new board officers this year, congratulations, you have inherited a board in great shape, ready to move forward. We have established a presence in the Capitol, a presence in the agencies, and a presence in the state. On behalf of the 2007 Youth Advisory Board state officers, I wish you much success and God bless!

Outcome of YAB elections: President Adrian McLemore, of Montgomery County, is entering into his second term of office. Vice President Ebony Orr and Media Spokesperson Danny Taylor represent Cuyahoga County. Treasurer Laura Johnson, Parliamentarian James Burge and Secretary Katrina Gallimore represent Lorrain County.

Lorrain County youth advisory board

The mission statement of the Lorrain County Youth Council is: "To make life easier for those entering, living in and leaving foster care, by providing advocacy, knowledge and opportunities."

Their 2008 objectives are: to improve the foster care system, to develop a Sibling Visitation Day, to advise foster parents and social workers not to deny sibling visitation as a punishment, and to create a DVD for young people entering foster care.

Orientation 2 Emancipation

The Cuyahoga Teen Advisory Council is an association of teens who are or have been in out-of-home care working to advocate for change while addressing the needs of teens.

Over the past year, the TAGyc has met with Frances Strickland and other state representatives to share their experiences, laid the foundation for a transitional housing community, and created a Teen Rights Booklet.

Their recent Orientation 2 Emancipation Forum drew an audience of approximately 34 youth, 10 alumni and 6 social work professionals.

The Ohio chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America presented a workshop on emotional resiliency and shared a board game created by Lisa Dickson that illustrated both the challenges and the resources for aging out of care