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Monday, March 19, 2012

Foster Care Alumni Contributions to the Ohio Child Welfare Training Program (OCWTP)

Lamar Graham's recent article for the Ohio Child Welfare Training Program's Common Ground newsletter:

Meet Foster Care Alumni Trainer Lamar Graham
Lamar is currently serving a second year as an AmeriCorps member with Hands-On Central Ohio, where he is responsible for getting people excited about service and also recruiting volunteers for service projects. 

We asked Lamar to give us some insight into what youth need to be prepared for independent living.

What is one of your specific advocacy areas related to foster care?


Can you give some examples of why this area needs reform?

Many students finish high school with no idea of the career path they want to follow.

I feel students should leave high school with at least four possible career options. They should know which careers require additional education, and understand the steps needed to be successful in the career they choose.

If students have a clearer understanding of what they would like to accomplish after high school, they would save time and use financial aid more wisely.

How can caseworkers/foster caregivers/adoptive parents better equip foster youth in this area?

Each stakeholder listed above should understand their role clearly and know exactly how their role ties in with the success of foster youth.

Caseworkers/foster caregivers/adoptive parents should coordinate a plan with the youth, outlining specific goals the youth may want to accomplish.  

By scheduling regular meetings to discuss and monitor the youth's progress, many future challenges can be avoided.  

What are some creative ideas regarding how this information might be shared in a workshop setting?

I recommend the following: 

1.  The training (or series of trainings) should start with a joint session with foster youth, caseworkers, foster caregivers/adoptive parents. 

2.  Each "role" should then have their own session (foster youth, caseworker, foster caregivers/adoptive parents)

3.  There should be rotation in which two groups are paired up and the third is by itself:

    -Youth will work alone, while foster caregivers /adoptive parents and caseworker work together
     -Caseworker will work alone, while youth and foster caregivers/adoptive parents work together
     -Foster caregivers /adoptive parents will work alone, while youth and caseworker work together 

4.  Everyone comes back together for a large group session

Lamar holds an Associate Degree in Business Management from Columbus State Community College and a Bachelor's Degree in Organizational Management from Wilberforce University. Lamar's future plans include becoming a professional speaker, trainer, and coach to help people become the best person they can become.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

White House Community Partnership Summit in Columbus OH

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Dept. of Health and Human Services with Alex McFarland of FCAA Ohio

The White House Community Partnership Summits are day-long programs held in 12 cities across the country, which bring senior Obama Administration officials and Agency staff from diverse policy areas together with civic, community, non-profit and business leaders to discuss issues critical to each particular community, region, and the nation.

These Summits are designed to connect senior Obama Administration officials from diverse policy areas with community, civic, non-profit, and business leaders to discuss issues critical to the their communities and to the nation.

The goals of the White House Community Partnership Summits are:

1.) Relationship Building—To establish a space where community leaders can meaningfully engage and interact with key decision and policy makers in the Obama Administration (regional and from Washington) on diverse policy areas that affect their community.

2. ) Obama Administration 101— To ensure that participants gain a deeper understanding of the Administration’s work, learn how they can connect with the Federal Government at the local level, and plan for the work yet to be done

3. ) Sharing Ideas—To empower participants to identify policy and programmatic areas of concern to their community. Administration officials will receive and respond to constructive criticism and feedback, and identify local success stories and practices in policy areas that could benefit other communities across the country.

4. ) Working Together—To allow participants to connect with one another and Administration officials to bring specific tools to amplify and leverage community solutions. Participants and Administration officials will work together to identify and develop opportunities for leaders and stakeholders to collaborate with the Obama Administration and other leaders from the community and across the country.

The White House Office of Public Engagement encourages continued conversation on their online forum.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Independent Living Preparation

In 2011, the Ohio chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America began facilitating monthly Independent Living trainings at Village Network Columbus, in order to help foster care youth prepare for the transition to adulthood.

Our most recent workshop included a trust walk...

Fairfield County Youth Advisory Board

The Ohio chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America is a proud supporters of our younger brothers and sisters in and from foster care...

It is our joy and our privilege to serve in the facilitator role for the Ohio Youth Advisory Board, and to invest our time in helping build additional county youth advisory boards.

Congratulations to newly elected Fairfield County Youth Advisory Board Officers:

  • President Kaytie Roger
  • Vice President Kia Williams
  • Media Spokesperson Tyler Reigle
  • Secretary Shyanna Fritz
  • Parliamentarian Destiny Williams
  • Treasurer Cory Griffin

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spotlight on FCAA Ohio Members: Lamar Graham

Congratulations to Lamar Graham for being chosen for the Civic Scholars Program of the National Conference on Volunteering and Service in Chicago -- this was a nationally competitive process, and we in Ohio are incredibly proud of him!!

The National Conference on Volunteering and Service is the world's largest gathering of volunteer and service leaders from the nonprofit, corporate and government sectors.

The Civic Scholars Program provides 50 individuals with community involvement experience and high potential for future civic engagement with:

  • waived Conference registration
  • direct access to experts
  • continuing education opportunities

Lamar Graham was chosen for this opportunity based upon his active civic engagement and community involvement, and his willingness to commit to this one-year initiative.

As graduate of Wilberforce University, and someone who has experienced foster care firsthand, Lamar’s desire is to help other young people succeed. His dedication towards this goal is exemplified through his actions.

  • On numerous occasions, Lamar has met with foster care youth at Franklin County Children Services, Village Network and Syntaxis to share resources available through I Know I Can, the only college access program in Columbus: This national organization was founded by community and civic leaders who believed that no child should be denied a college education simply because they could not afford it – and Lamar’s vision is to bridge the gap between foster care and higher education.
  • Lamar has dedicated his time to support the Children's Defense Fund as a servant leader in his teaching role at the Freedom School, and during CDF’s National Day of Social Action, when he shared his story with community leaders and the local press to advocate for continued funding for Pell Grants.
As an aspiring civic leader, Lamar continues to share his insights:

Lamar is an excellent team player, who pays close attention to detail. A talented public speaker, he can both captivate an audience and yet remains willing to take the back seat if necessary in order to enable, empower and encourage other young people to grow.

Lamar's recent decision to pursue nonprofit training certification at OSU is just one more indicator of his long-term commitment towards creating lasting change.