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Monday, January 18, 2010

Lisa Dickson named Volunteer of the Year

Ohio Foster Care Alumna Named Volunteer of the Year
Foster Care Alumni of America names Lisa Dickson Volunteer of the Year

Washington, DC — The Board of Directors of Foster Care Alumni of America, the only national association for adults who experienced foster care as children, has named Ohio resident, Lisa Dickson, as Volunteer of the Year.

Lisa lived in foster care from ages 12-16, lived in a variety of placements, including group homes and an emergency shelter, and "aged out" of foster care and started college when she was 16 years old.  As the Communications Chair for the Ohio Chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America (FCAA), Lisa has been extremely effective in establishing the chapter and its members as a source of expertise in the state and around the country.  Lisa has led efforts to advocate for reinstating state funding for Independent Living services through advocacy visits with members of the state legislature, coordination with other advocates, and numerous opportunities for chapter members to testify before legislative committees.

The chapter has also been involved in Ohio Reach, a statewide effort to increase the recruitment and retention of foster care alumni in high education, and to establish foster care liaisons at Ohio universities, community college and technical schools.  Lisa’s commitment to supporting the leadership development of other alumni across the state has led to a very well trained and experienced core membership in the chapter and will serve to make the Ohio chapter sustainable well into the future.

Lisa has led the development of a number of trainings for FCAA including Emotional Resiliency, Purposeful Sharing and Real Life 101 workshops. She is dedicated to teaching professionals to effectively and respectfully engage alumni, to create understanding about how childhood trauma can affect an individual for their entire life, and to support young people and alumni to establish healthy boundaries and expectations in their personal, volunteer and professional relationships.

In addition to her activities at the state level, Lisa is a highly visible and effective national leader.  She has a strong presence online as a person who is always willing to ask tough questions about practice and policy in both foster care and adoption.  She has provided her technical expertise to numerous other FCAA members as well as the broader child welfare community (leading the establishment of a number of resource websites aimed at people in and from care and the professionals who serve them).  Lisa is a gifted trainer and often represents FCAA at state and national events as a keynote speaker and/or workshop presenter.

Lisa has recently been engaged FCAA’s Volunteer Social Media Coordinator.  This is a fitting evolution for an individual committed to making her own voice heard through blogs, forums, and social networks that are related to foster care. 

Foster Care Alumni of America’s Board of Directors named four Volunteers of the Year in 2009. In addition to Lisa, they celebrated the contributions of Ryan Dollinger (alumnus of foster care from Texas), Eshawn Peterson (alumna from Arizona) and consultant and retired juvenile and family court judge, Stephen Rideout of Virginia. 

About Foster Care Alumni of America: In 2004, foster care alumni and advocates created a national non-profit association that brings together the expertise of adults who have experienced foster care.  Foster Care Alumni of America (FCAA) was formed to engage the more than 12 million alumni of foster care and to advocate for the needs of the youth and alumni of foster care.

FCAA has nearly 3, 000 members from all 50 states. Through FCAA, alumni of foster care hope to create the ability to connect with one another in an organized and well-supported community and to use alumni expertise to transform the foster care system.

FCAA's mission seeks to provide innovation in the federal and state child welfare systems and effective and meaningful partnerships with child welfare organizations. FCAA has confidence that it can partner with others to reduce the numbers of children and youth in foster care and can improve the foster care experience through investments of their expertise and energy.

For more information on Foster Care Alumni of America, please visit our website at:

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Ohio Reach Radio Interview

In 2010, the Ohio chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America will continue working towards improving Higher Education Outcomes for foster care youth and alumni.

Below is a radio interview we participated in regarding Ohio Reach for WCUE/WOTL/WYTN (radio stations covering Toledo, Cleveland and Youngstown).

Thursday, January 14, 2010

FCAA Ohio on NPR

Foster Kids Who Age Out of Care Face Tough Road
Mandie Trimble, WOSU News (2010-01-11).

COLUMBUS, OH (WOSU) - Many rites of passages come along with turning eighteen: high school graduation, voting, entering the work force or college. For most young people it means the first time away from home and parents, an exciting, albeit scary, time for which many teens have been anxiously waiting for years. But for youth who reach the age of majority while in foster care, the rite of passage comes with additional challenges.

Mandie Trimble asked FCAA Ohio Communications Chair, Lisa Dickson, about the resources available and the current challenges for Ohio foster youth "aging out" of foster care.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

FCAA Ohio 2009 Year in Review

Ohio chapter members,

As our chapter moves forward into a new decade, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate our accomplishments in 2009 - and to invite each and every one of you to deepen your level of FCAA involvement during the year to come!

Our 2009 accomplishments include the following:
  • Testifying before Ohio legislators, in the House, Senate and HB 1 conference committee, regarding the loss of state Independent Living Funds.
  • Visiting various counties to build youth advisory boards.
  • Co-hosting the youth track of the NACAC conference.
  • Sharing foster care alumni insights nationally and locally, including the American Adoption Conference, DC visits hosted by Casey Family Programs and NACAC, the Ohio Summit on Children, and the 30th anniversary of Chafee funding.
  • Hosting two FCAA reunions, one in Cincinnati during Foster Care Month, and one during Thanksgiving, attended by Ohio First Lady, Frances Strickland.
Our members were honored in the following capacities:
In 2010, we plan to:
  • Continue to build a statewide network of foster care youth and alumni.
  • Start planning our advocacy strategy re: Independent Living for the 2012-2013 Biennual Budget.
  • Promote the needs of emancipating foster care youth to the Ohio faith community through our 2010 initiative, Project Safety Net.
  • Finish and share our "When Helping You is Hurting Me" workshop, based on maintaining healthy boundaries in relationships with biological families and others, and while advocating for change.
We will continue to:
How can YOU get involved? (if you aren't already)
  • Look at the Foster Care Youth and Alumni Communities Map
  • This map is color-coded based upon existing foster care youth and alumni representation. 
  • Does your county have a youth advisory board?  If not, would you like to be a part of building one? 
  • Would you like to reach out to other foster care alumni in your area? 
  • Have you connected with the leadership staff of the Ohio chapter, to share your passion for change, creative ideas and areas of expertise?
We are a community - and every member of this community has something to share!