In response to the passage of HB 8, which reduces the number of training hours required for foster parents, Ohio foster care youth and alumni have talked about:
- Launching an advocacy effort to “Make Every Training Hour Count” that focuses on the need for training tracks vs. just getting enough hours.
- We would really love to see mandatory training tracks on independent living/life skill resources for foster parents (and caseworkers) who take in teens.
- And to address situations like the foster parent who said she takes the same classes every year just to get hours in.
We truly have a wonderful partner in Kim Eckhart of Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio. Her blog post about the passage of HB 8 was excellent, especially the following quotes:
- Training for foster caregivers gives them tools to be effective. Part of being a supportive caregiver includes knowing how to navigate the resources provided by the educational and health care system so that children can flourish. This is especially important as teenagers learn independence and prepare to live on their own. Advocates in Ohio have fought hard to create programs that benefit youth during this transition: namely housing supports and educational vouchers. But these programs only benefit youth if they know about them. Foster caregivers must be trained in the application guidelines for these programs.
- Leverage youth voice and experience to improve training effectiveness. The change created by HB 8 must be accompanied by a vision from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services for comprehensive, standardized, and accessible training. This vision should be informed by current and former foster youth, whose lived experience is the most valuable expertise.
Kim also shared that, with the passage of HB8, CDF-Ohio may have an opportunity to be a part of a workgroup to review the rules around training.
Here are two testimonials that were recently submitted by former foster youth:
1.) Raven Grice serves on the OHIO Youth Advisory Board, and after conferring with her fellow Youth Advisory Board, she compiled three specific recommendations, which are included in her written testimony:
- Independent Living Departments should be mandated in every county.
- Foster parents and caseworkers that serve teens should be mandated to attend training on resources to assist in the transition to young adulthood.
- Private foster care agencies that are entrusted with teenagers should be held accountable to adequately and consistently prepare them with life skills.
2.) Merri Haren, a former foster youth from Stark County, wrote her testimonial to support Raven's recommendations. She shared her own experiences and how life skills preparation in Stark County helps her, ending with the final message:
- Raven Grice, a fellow member of the Ohio foster care system, has listed specific recommendations in her testimony to the Independent Living system that I believe will provide the structural framework necessary to get this program back up and running with clearly set guidelines and steps.
- Her suggestions and specific calls to action are backed by the end result of someone who received those services. There is a reason former youth are coming together now for the youth that are still in the system- we know how essential this program is and we want better for our fellow brothers and sisters aging out of it. Please hear our words and consider the benefit to the economy, but more importantly, society, that this program has on our youth.”
As of this morning, additional young people are writing testimony as well.