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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Mark Mecum and OACCA ~ ACTION Ohio's 2016 Ally of the Year

ACTION Ohio (Alumni of Care Together Improving Outcomes Now) is dedicated to improving outcomes for current and former foster care youth. We bring together the voices of youth, alumni and allies to create lasting change and generate hope for current and former foster youth, based on access to resources, ally support and alumni expertise.

It gives us great pleasure to recognize Mark Mecum and the Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies as our 2016 Ally of the Year. This award has been a long time coming, and is well-earned. Founded in 1973 as Ohio’s very first statewide child advocacy organization, OACCA provides leadership for Ohio’s at-risk children, families, and community providers. The best way to measure an organization is by the model of the people who create and sustain it. Mark Mecum’s example, and that of his staff, testifies to OACCA's standard of excellence when it comes to child advocacy.

Ohio foster care youth and alumni began partnering with OACCA in 2007. We came to them to report barriers and obstacles experienced by foster youth in pursuing education, housing, mentoring, health care and workforce development. We were immediately impressed by the dedication and skill that Mark Mecum and other OACCA staff demonstrated. They responded to our concerns by bringing additional partners to the table to explore these challenges and opportunities.

In 2008, OACCA held a series of Independent Living Policy Forums in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, and Columbus. These forums brought together current and foster youth, public and private child welfare agencies, foster parents, community commissioners and state legislators. The purpose of the forums was to craft policy recommendations for the improvement of services and opportunities to foster youth. OACCA demonstrated great skill in maintaining ongoing communications and partnerships between these multiple organizations.

OACCA followed up by facilitating several Independent Living Legislative Workgroups to further explore cost-effective changes to state policy that would increase the likelihood of today’s foster youth becoming productive and responsible adults. One example of the “ripple effect” created by OACCA’s advocacy is that the Higher Education Policy Brief created by one of those workgroups led to the launching (in 2009) of the Ohio Reach initiative.   

As exemplified through OACCA’s recent work on Ohio Fostering Connections, Mark Mecum and his staff are incredibly skilled in bringing multiple partners to the table in order to work together towards better outcomes for children and families. This has been demonstrated by their work in hosting statewide and regional forums, independent living summits and legislative endeavors such as the 2009 “Ready to Launch” initiative to restore our state’s TANF independent living allocation. Mark Mecum’s many leadership skills include his ability to work with diverse groups of people and coalitions, compile policy recommendations, and then motivate partners to continue to work together to make their goals a reality.

OACCA's commitment, values, and vision are clearly represented through the high caliber of leadership exemplified by their staff. Your support of foster care youth and alumni voices has never wavered. We are deeply grateful for our continued partnership with your organization.

Planning ahead for 2016 OSU College for the Day for Ohio Foster Care Youth

Jessica's Testimony on HB 50

Michael Outrich testifies to extend foster care until age 21 in Ohio

Sunday, May 15, 2016

2016 Reaching for Success conference

ACTION Ohio had the honor of serving as lead facilitator for Ohio's very first conference for SE Ohio foster youth (ages 14+).

We are very grateful for all the planning committee members, and all the sponsors that made this event a success. Learn more at our event website: