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Friday, January 29, 2021

Press conference to celebrate the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act

  


Representative Michael Turner invited foster care youth and alumni advocates from the OHIO YAB and ACTION Ohio to join him in celebrating FSHO becoming a law during a press conference on Wednesday, January 27, 2021.

The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act mandates that federal agencies set aside housing vouchers for foster youth who age out of the system so that they no longer face homelessness. The bill, which was passed as part of the CARES Act, has requirements that the young adults must participate in training, work, or school in order to maintain the voucher.


In the words of Cloé Cooper:

Hello, my name is Cloé Cooper and I am a former foster youth who serves as an advocate to improve outcomes for my brothers and sisters in and from foster care.

It is my privilege to be a part of the collective voice of Ohio foster care youth and alumni and it is my honor today to speak on behalf on every foster youth who volunteered their time to travel to Washington D.C. To all of you who came before me, I am humbled by your tenacity and commitment to those who will come after us. 

Today, I have the honor of speaking both from my own experience and that of my siblings of the foster care system. When it comes to the historical context of this bill, Ohio foster care youth first traveled to Washington DC in March of 2013. From that very first moment, and on the very first day of legislative visits, Representative Michael Turner has been literally our very first and most authentic champion. He heard our voices and our stories, understanding that homelessness is one of the main challenges we face as we emancipate from the agencies we are assigned to. 

With the support of Mr. Turner, this life changing legislation provides on demand housing vouchers for young adults exiting foster care who are at risk of homelessness. It supersedes any barrier that once prevented our population from accessing this resource and gives former foster youth a chance to finally have a home of their own. A fair chance to build the life they deserve. 

I want to thank everyone who has supported the efforts of Ohio’s foster youth, and our nations foster youth. Those who have lived experience being involved with out of home placements can always bring understanding and solutions to the problems we face. I am filled with gratitude for those who invited us to the table to present them. I am eager to see how our countries community partners work together to make this new resource available for my brothers and sisters of care. I am confident that those who are given the ability to receive vouchers per the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act will become the next trailblazers we need to represent and fight for the equity, equality and security of every soul touched by the child welfare system and beyond. Thank you.

In the words of Jonathan Thomas: 

Good morning. I am honored, and privileged to be here amongst you all. 

I would like to thank Congressmen Mike Turner for his continued support of emancipated foster youth all over Ohio. It can be difficult to emancipate into adulthood with no idea of what such a life should look like. But the work from this office has gone forward to pave the way for some amazing programs, that have the potential to guide our youths into successful lives.

Many people give up on you in foster care. Even more people give up on you when you emancipate foster care. Therefore, it is extremely encouraging for the moral of human decency that people continue to strive to do better for each other. A mantle that everyone here has taken up in some way, shape, or form.

May those to come observe, and take note of this day, and may they know that this was done for them. For the hope of their future. May this day encourage them, and inspire their dreams of a more positive way of life. And may they know that they are loved, hoped for, and believed in more than they can possibly imagine. Thank you.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

2020 Statewide Advocacy by Ohio foster care youth and alumni


 

The Overcoming Hurdles in Ohio Youth Advisory Board (OHIO YAB) is a statewide organization of young people (aged 14-24) who have experienced foster care. The OHIO YAB exists to be the knowledgeable statewide voice that influences policies and practices that impact youth who have or will experience out of home care.

Alumni of Care Together Improving Outcomes Now Ohio is dedicated to improving outcomes for current and former foster care youth. We seek first to listen to, support, and follow up on the insights expressed by today’s foster care youth and young adults, related to barriers that negatively impact their immediate/long-term outcomes.

In 2020, we communicated regularly with Governor DeWine’s Office and his staff, and presented in-person and virtual testimony to the Children’s Services Transformation Advisory Council. Our recommendations were also captured in our Letter to the Editor of the Columbus Dispatch. We participated in Governor DeWine’s press conference to announce the Council’s final report and recommendations.

We have the utmost respect for Governor DeWine. He responded to our first and second letters proposing protections for foster youth by issuing and extending a temporary moratorium on aging out of foster care and Bridges. Foster youth throughout Ohio participated in creating a photo message of thanks.

On the date of the House Bill 8 signing, we sent a third letter to Governor DeWine to recommend that the next step forward after reducing foster parent training hours is to Make Every Training Count through specialized training tracks — especially for foster parents caring for teens. This request is directly related to our Don’t Forget to Foster Our Future Campaign.

As we continue to focus on improving outcomes after foster care, we deeply value our ongoing communication with Chancellor Randy Gardner and his staff members at the Ohio Department of Higher Education. We also continue to monitor access to Medicaid for former foster youth, and how things are moving forward now that the Mandated Reporter Bill has become state law.