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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Need-to-know resources for current/former foster care youth in Ohio

Here in Ohio, we are exploring way to create a future phone app for foster care teens and young adults, to connect them with available resources.

During our July 2017 statewide OHIO YAB meeting, participants, including our statewide Board President, talked about how having a phone app to access information, by category, in the moment of need/crisis, would be beneficial.

In the meantime, these are the resource lists/tools that we have compiled so far:

1.) Statewide Resources for Foster Youth

2.) Statewide Resources Grid   (listed in the order that the specific requirements for the provision of independent living services to youth in custody was listed in Ohio Administrative Code: 5101:2-42-19)

3.) OHIO YAB Foster Youth Rights Handbook (edited by Alexander McFarland)

4.) Independent Living Roadmap and Toolkit (draft created by Michael Outrich)

5.) Franklin County Resources for Foster Youth

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Ohio House Bill 448: Advocating for Sibling Visitation

Update: Ida Yarngo of Franklin County was excited to to participate in the recent interested parties meeting that Representatives LaTourette and Boyd hosted on Tuesday, January, 16, to introduce HB 448: Sibling Rights Legislation.
Ida shared that when she came to the United States from Liberia, everyone and everything that she had ever known was now literally a continent away. And the one familiar comfort to her was her brother. And then she was separated from that connection as well. When that happened, Ida felt incredibly alone.
She was honored to have the opportunity to meet with the legislators who are championing this legislation, and to thank them for standing beside her to improve policy regarding this important issue.    

The current wording of Ohio House Bill 448 defines a sibling as:

  • Someone who "shares at least one biological or adoptive parents, or has been raised in the household as a sibling."

It is important that this definition remains broad, because:

  • When families break down, relationships become complex and complicated.
  • Sibling relationships might include biological siblings who were relinquished or removed at birth, half-siblings, step-siblings or current/former foster siblings.
  • Not all couples are married, so a sibling could include: "Mom's ex-boyfriend's daughter."

It will also be important for the wording to remain firm in order to truly make those sibling connections HAPPEN:

Research demonstrates that the sibling bond is stronger between brothers and sisters from dysfunctional families. In abusive and/or neglectful families, it is common for siblings to nurture and protect one another. When parents are neglectful or abusive, older siblings often voluntarily take on a quasi-parental role.

Quote from a Time Magazine article about "The New Science of Siblings:"
  • “From the time they are born, our brothers and sisters are our collaborators and co-conspirators, our role models and cautionary tales, our protective barrier against family upheaval.
  • "They are our scolds, protectors, goads, tormentors, playmates, counselors, sources of envy, objects of pride. They teach us how to resolve conflicts and how not to; how to conduct friendships and when to walk away from them. Sisters teach brothers about the mysteries of girls; brothers teach sisters about the puzzle of boys.
  • "Our spouses arrive comparatively late in our lives; our parents eventually leave us. Our siblings may be the only people we'll ever know who truly qualify as partners for life.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Remembering Charlotte Osterman

Charlotte Ostermann is gone, but she will never be forgotten.

It is because of Charlotte, that an ad hoc committee began meeting in April 2008, in order to empower the voices of foster care alumni as trainers for the Ohio Child Welfare Training Program. Charlotte's sweet and gracious spirit is matched by a stubborn determination.

She never gave up, and it is because of her that several foster care alumni involved in ACTION Ohio are OCWTP trainers today.

The seeds that Charlotte planted are why foster care alumni have been empowered to help write the training curriculum for the Bridges program. She always saw the value of foster care youth and alumni voice.