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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Three statewide confererences in a row!

Gabriel Koshinsky and A. Keller

The Ohio chapter of FCAA recently presented at three statewide conferences in a row!

The first was for specialized foster parents (CO-OHIO), the second was designed to train the trainers of every state social worker and foster parent in Ohio (IHS), and the third was for private and public foster care agencies (OACCA).

A. Keller, who spent time in the Ohio foster care system and is currently a Rotary scholar at McGill University in Canada, flew to Ohio to assist with all three conferences. She was a strong voice in sharing knowledge about adolescent brain development and the dangers of overuse of psychotropic drugs on foster care children.

During the OACCA statewide advocacy conference, Ohio foster care alumni were able to share their insights and concerns with Representative Jim McGregor and State Senators Ray Miller and Keith Faber. Vanessa Jackson educated legislative representatives about the challenges of being a teen mother in the foster care system and the short-sightedness of not investing in opportunities to facilitate teen parents and foster care alumni in seeking higher education.

Ally member Doris Edelmann and alumni member Lisa Dickson were both awarded the Virginia Colson award, a statewide award named after a youth advocate and given to every year to someone who has made a positive difference for young people in and from the foster care and/or juvenile justice system in Ohio.

As a result of contacts made during the OACCA conference, Amanda Dunlap and Gabriel Koshinsky will be involved in the Ohio Adoption Planning Group (OAPG) and have a voice regarding an Ohio legislative bill on hold, House Bill 7, that is specifically directed towards adoption reform.

Gabriel Koshinsky has recently returned from a trip to Washington D.C. to attend the Child Welfare League of America training for a foster care peer mentoring initiative in Franklin County, Ohio. He participated in a youth panel at the OACCA statewide advocacy event, and was a strong voice for adoption reform.

Gabe and other members of the Ohio chapter will be participating in a youth forum during the statewide ODJFS Foster Care Month event on May 5th.