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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Upcoming FCAA Ohio Regional Meetings

Fostering Success in Higher Education

The Ohio chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America was honored to have one of our members chosen by Foster Care to Success as their March 2013 hero.

We consider Foster Care to Success to be one of our valued allies, and one that we deeply appreciate. We value the wonderful opportunities, including ETV funds, that they bring to foster care alumni. Our experience with this organization has been that they strive to assist former foster youth whenever possible, and consistently go the extra mile.

Here in Ohio, we are currently looking forward to our state's fifth annual Ohio Reach Summit. Our keynote speaker, Dr. Glenn DuBois, Chancellor of Virginia's Community Colleges, spent his summer vacation bicycling over 700 miles, in order to promote Great Expectations for foster youth pursuing higher ed.

There are a growing number of of resources to prepare foster youth for higher education, including financial assistance. These resources are not limited to colleges and universities -- they exist for vocational and technical schools as well.  Let's keep working to make sure today's foster care youth, alumni and allies are aware of existing resources...

Also, let's continue to promote Ohio Best Practices, and strive to add to the growing number of Ohio Reach Campus Liaisons. Having allies on campus to support their success increases the chance that foster care alumni will enroll in and graduate from higher education.

Voices of Firsthand Experience

Kudos to Chris Chmielewski of Foster Focus Magazine for inviting foster care youth and alumni throughout the nation to share what foster care was like for them... 

Insights from two members of the Ohio chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America:

Three Days On the Hill

The Ohio chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America was honored to serve as lead facilitator, and one of the sponsors of Three Days on the Hill for Foster Care Youth and Alumni.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Three Days On the Hill - Celebration and Departure

Three Days On the Hill - Day Three: Legislative Visits and Fostering Change

During their visit with Becky Shipp, Health Policy Advisory to the Senate Finance Commitee, youth wondered whether there might be another way to encourage states to comply with NYTD other than cutting Chafee funds.

They worried that youth themselves will be punished by this, and their outcomes negatively impacted.

The young people greatly enjoyed this visit, and felt very "heard" and understood by Becky Shipp. Dauntea Sledge coordinated the ending of the meeting, during which each young person shared what they appreciated most about the visit. It was a powerful and beautiful experience.

The final visit of our trip was with Senator Rob Portman's new aide -- she was wowed by the young people. So much so that she spent additional time with them, beyond that which was already scheduled. She also arranged for them to be able to watch live Senate hearings.

Shalita O'Neale and the Fostering Change Network hosted an evening banquet to celebrate the success of the OHIO Youth Advisory Board's first trip to DC. Supporting organizations/alumni in attendance included Danielle Jennings of Blessed Haven and Chris Chmielewski of Foster Focus Magazine.

Three Days On the Hill - Day Two: Legislative Visits

After their training, youth representatives of the OHIO Youth Advisory Board identified four areas to learn more about during their time in DC:

  • What is the role of the federal government when it comes to transitional housing for youth "aging out" of foster care? 
  • Does the Uninterrupted Scholars Act address the differing number of credits required to graduate from high schools, and how this can negatively impact foster youth when they transfer from one high school to another? 
  • Could Title IV-E funds ever be expanded to allow them to be used for the training of youth -- not just adults? 
  • Is there another way to promote compliance with NTYD besides having states lose part of their Chafee dollars for noncompliance? Could there be another penalty? Rather than one that risks negatively impacting the success of foster youth? 
It was very educational for youth to be able to dialogue with federal officials. And the representatives, in turn, valued discussions with our young people.

1.) U.S. Congressman Pat Tiberi's office was already supportive and aware of the issues that youth discussed -- with one exception:

  • They were not aware that the flexibility of IV-E funds still would not allow them to be used to train youth -- only to train adults. 
  •  One OHIO YAB Officers, Tabitha Copas, compared this to the game of "Telephone" -- her question was: "Why train a foster parent or caseworker to train youth about independent living? Why not train youth directly themselves, by excellent, talented trainers?" 
  • Tabitha added that, as it is, busy caseworkers do this in addition to all their other responsibilities, and the quality and consistency of training for youth differs throughout Ohio. 
2.) U.S. Congressman Michael Turner from Dayton took a special interest in discussing housing for transitional youth. He asked many questions of young people about their personal experiences, and mentioned that he was meeting with a representative from his local Metropolitan Housing Authority later in the afternoon, and wanted to talk about setting aside housing specifically for foster youth / alumni and making them a priority.

3.) Representative John Boehner's office was the third and final visit of the day. We appreciated the Speaker of the House's willingness to set aside time during this period of busy House negotiation in order to arrange for the youth to meet with a representative from his office. The youth were articulate and presented well and we were very proud of them.

Three Days On the Hill - Day One: Training

The Ohio chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America considered it an honor to support the OHIO Youth Advisory Board in their very first visit to DC. We also deeply appreciate other organizations, including the Dave Thomas Foundation, whose support made this trip possible. Youth training was facilitated by:

  • The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) 
  • Casey Family Programs 
  • The Office of Representative Karen Bass 
  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 
  • The National Center for Housing and Child Welfare 
  • The Maryland Foster Youth Resource Center 
Youth participants learned about the Congressional Caucus on Foster Care, and federal funding sources for both child welfare and housing support.