Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Gabriel Young's Letter of Support for the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act

Good morning,

My name is Gabriel Young. I am the President of the Overcoming Hurdles Ohio Youth Advisory board, also known as the OHIO YAB. The OHIO Youth Advisory Board is a statewide organization for young people age 14-24. Our mission statement is that we exist to be the knowledgeable statewide voice that influences policies and practices that affect all youth who have or will experience out of home care.

I am writing to strongly support the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act. As a foster youth myself, it matters to me that over a thousand Ohio foster care youth “age out” of care every year. Nationally, this number is approximately 22,000.

Far too often, aging out of foster care means aging into homelessness. Foster youth want more than that. What we want most are opportunities to create a successful future.

I am a foster care alumni from Mahoning County. I emancipated the foster care system when I was 18 years old. I was still in high school, and had to work a full time job. This became a huge struggle for me. I had tons of bills pilling up and needed to work more hours to support myself and still go to school.

School was my main priority, but I needed to have a roof over my head and I needed to have food. So I had to make a tough decision either keep going to school or become homeless, so I choose to go to work so i could have somewhere to stay. I paid for my decision. I am graduating a year late, and missed out on 20,00.00 dollars in scholarships due to not graduating on time.

The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act has my full support. I believe that it will improve outcomes for foster youth, decrease the homelessness rate for emancipated youth, and provide them with additional opportunities to contribute to and give back to society.

Gabriel Young
President
Overcoming Hurdles in Ohio Youth Advisory Board

Monday, September 12, 2016

Violet Ramunni's Letter of Support for the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act

Greeting and Salutations,

My name is Violet Ramunni I am a former foster youth who emancipated from Medina County Childrens Services in 2013, after spending the last 8 years in Medina County Custody.

Since my emancipation, I have lived in a housing program for homeless youth, Section 8 and currently reside with my former foster parents until I recive a ship date from The United States Navy.

I served on the Ohio Youth Advisory Board as Vice President from 2014-2015. Our mission is to be the knowledgable statewide voice that influences polices and practices that affect all youth who have or will experience out of home care. I also served on the National Foster Youth and Alumni Policy Council.

 I'm writing to ever so strongly support the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act. As a youth who emancipated out of the system over 3 years ago, I am now able to appreciate my journey since emancipation. I've grown as a person due to these struggles. What troubles me is that the number of fosters emancipating every year is 22,000.

The day of my emancipation, I moved straight into a homeless program for youth
because my county did not have programs like Independent Living or Vouchers.

The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act would provide foster youth with more than just a house. We've been through too many houses and never a place to call home. Giving youth the opportunity to strive in college or work or whatever their choice is, is what really gets me excited.

I as a foster was not educated about what college really was. I knew I wanted to attend college. I had someone help me fill out my FAFSA and went to my college orientation by myself. Had I received any education toward the difference between a full-time or part time student, and tips on time management, I might have passed my first semester of college.

We all want to make something of ourselves and better our futures, whether you are currently in the foster system or aged out. This Act is a step in the right direction.

Violet Ramunni
Former OHIO YAB Vice President
Future Navy Sailor

Allissa Mitchell's Letter of Support for the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act

Good afternoon, Dan Hare,

 My name is Allissa Mitchell and I live in Stark County Ohio.

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

I am writing this to state how strongly I support the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act. As a foster alumni, it matters to me that over a thousand Ohio foster care youth "age out" every year. Nationally, this number is 22,000. This program has my support, for it will not only decrease the homelessness in foster youth that age out every year, but it will also encourage youth to attend a secondary education. The less youth we have in homeless shelters, the chances of drug abuse and incarceration become much more slim.

Personally, I have been emancipated out of the system since my senior year of high school which was a little over a year ago. Housing myself is the biggest responsibility and hardship in my life. It has been an onward struggle almost from the get-go. I took online classes for massage therapy at Stark State last fall but quickly became overwhelmed from working as a behavioral interventionist and facilitator at a therapeutic center and the bills I had to deal with. Unfortunately, I did not pass that semester. If this Act had been used in my circumstance, I feel as if subsidized housing would have been an absolute huge help on my part. I feel as if I would have my massage therapy license by now.

The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act has my full support. I believe that it will improve outcomes for foster youth, and provide them with additional opportunities to contribute to and give back to society.

Allissa Mitchell
Former two-term President
Overcoming Hurdles in Ohio Youth Advisory Board

Melissa Stroud's Letter of Support for the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act

Good morning,

My name is Melissa Stroud, and I live in Mahoning County Ohio; although I am originally from Ashtabula County. 


I hold the position of Media Spokesperson for the Overcoming Hurdles in Ohio Youth Advisory Board (OHIO YAB), which 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 affect all youth who have or will experience out-of-home care.

I am writing to strongly support the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act. As a current foster youth that is very close to turning 18, it matters to me that over a thousand Ohio foster care youth “age out” of care every year. Nationally, this number is approximately 22,000.

Far too often, aging out of foster care means aging into homelessness, whether it's being turned out onto the streets with no support or finding out that foster youth have no place to go when colleges go on break. Foster youth want more than that. What we want most are opportunities to create a successful future.

During our annual Three Days on the Hill trips to DC this past March, the meeting with Representative Michael Turner caught my attention the most. Not only did he seem interested, but he wanted to act as soon as possible. Personally, I support the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act due to the very many struggles foster youth have when trying to pursue their education. Education is an essential aspect of success in today's society; homelessness is one of many struggles foster youth have faced as far as attending their last year(s) of high school and trying to keep up with post-secondary.

I strongly believe this act has great potential to become an amazing resource for our future emancipating foster youth. It's so empowering to know that our statewide board has such an influence on our future generations of foster youth.

The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act has my full support. I believe that this resource will tremendously improve success rates among foster youth, and grant them with additional opportunities to lead and give back to society.

Melissa Stroud
Media Spokesperson
Overcoming Hurdles in Ohio Youth Advisory Board

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Outdoor Youth Leadership Retreat at Paradise in the Sky



Link to slideshow of more pictures from our second youth leadership retreat at Paradise in the Sky: https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipMGlHXL7O3Lp46ggoltMgs1a4kbfSqYF1elbewH0kMF4qmN7OvCNWqbadtiXANffA/photo/AF1QipOzx3vnbgRbatMxJQ-0XV6A6Cx_kC56JB5xgNnM?key=S29kNFNHdzNoVTBRNjVuNkhZaXYyOVFLN0diR1RB

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Franklin County YAB



Foster care youth and alumni recently gained insight on the legislative process during the Three Days on the Hill event in Washington D.C. FCCS was represented by 19-year-old Akire Thomas, president of the agency’s Youth Advisory Council and Regina Douglas, director of FCCS’s Therapeutic Arts Program. “The trip was designed to provide attendees an opportunity to learn how to improve the lives of current and future foster youth by advocating on the state and federal level,” said Douglas.

After participating in training about lobbying with national experts from the Annie E. Casey Family Program, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare, the youth used their new skills and personal insights concerning the foster care experience to develop arguments for positive change. Then they met with state and federal legislators from Ohio and shared their concerns—the chief concern being homelessness among youth after aging out of foster care. Participants also attended a briefing on the Voices of Youth Count on Capitol Hill, which is a youth-led survey of homeless youth taking place in 22 counties across the country.

Being able to participate in the legal process as authorities on the foster care experience was an enriching experience for the youth who attended Three Days on the Hill. Former FCCS youth and current Starfish Alliance Vice President Jamole Callahan attended and felt the event was very educational. “The participants learned how policies and laws come into being, as well as how to effectively advocate for those who are voiceless,” he said. Akire felt empowered by the experience. “I’m inspired to advocate more for youth, especially teenagers who need support. I can also be patient about the process of making changes, since I now understand it better,” she said.

Learn more about the Franklin County Youth Advisory Board.

Joshua Hatch, FosterClub AllStar


Joshua Hatch is one of 25 youth who were selected to participate in the Foster Club All-Star Intern Program, a prestigious opportunity which allowed him to travel to Oregon to attend leadership and team building training, as well as participate in events throughout the country. These experiences gave Hatch and fellow interns the opportunity to share their personal stories and insights with current and former foster youth, as well as youth advocates.

After seven weeks of intense training, the interns attended the Oregon Teen Conference, where Hatch shared keynote speaking duties with another youth. He also participated in planning and facilitating foster youth conferences in Portland, Oregon and Tacoma, Washington. He will continue to participate in similar conferences throughout the year.

Hatch enjoys sharing his personal story and encouraging youth who are transitioning out of foster care. “I want them to know that they all have a place in life, regardless of their circumstances or history,” he said. “They can reach their goals.” When asked what he’s gained from the internship, Hatch said, “I think I’ve learned to have patience with people and listen to different points of view…I’ve also learned how to travel.”

While Hatch spent more than eight years in foster care, he has been able to take advantage of many opportunities available to him, including receiving FCCS’s 2014 Jack Donahue Scholarship, as well as his current internship. He is currently entering his third year at Wright State University, where he is majoring in psychology and is president of the Black Student Union, as well as a member of Kappa Alpha Psi. Hatch enjoys writing and performing poetry in his spare time.