Sunday, January 14, 2018
*Link to photos
Ice and snow greatly impeded youth participation for yesterday's OHIO YAB Retreat. So we focused on listening to, supporting and empowering the youth who were able to be there.
One of them is going to meet with legislators on Tuesday about the Ohio Sibling Visitation Bill. Ida Yarngo spent part of her time at the Retreat preparing to share before legislators why sibling visitation is so very important.
She shared that when she came to the United States from Liberia, and 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 lost that.
She said, "I shouldn't be fighting this battle myself."
Ida is eager to meet the legislators who are championing this legislation, and thank them for fighting alongside of her to improve policy regarding this important issue.
Another is preparing to give legislative testimony about why police should be mandated reporters. Sabrina was adopted into an abusive home. If the police officers who visited the house had been mandated reporters, and had notified children services about what was going on, she would have been safeguarded from additional abuse.
Saturday, December 30, 2017
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
Saturday, August 5, 2017
Brittany Lynn Sergent, 19 entered into eternal rest on Monday, July 24, 2017 in Ashtabula, OH. Her life ended much too soon and her death is grieved by all who knew her. Brittany was the biological daughter of Debra Zalimeni of Ashtabula and David (William) Sergent of St. Clairsville, and the beloved foster daughter of Rob and Angela Hytree of Painesville.
While the extent of her biological family is unknown in full, she is survived by several siblings, half-siblings, and aunts. Her foster siblings, grand-parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were also her "family". Her dear friends were her "family".
To Brittany, blood didn't make you family, love did. And there is no shortage of people who loved her.
Brittany attended Painesville Twp. And Painesville City schools, as well as earning her HS diploma through homeschool and online efforts. She was a true Red Raider at heart.
Britt love to sing. She was in choir at school and sang on the youth group worship teams at both Freedom Assembly of God and Painesville Assembly of God. She was an avid lover of contemporary Christian music. Some of her favorite artists include: Skillet, Lecrae, and Crowder and concerts were her favorite events. Britt was unashamed of her faith in Jesus Christ as her savior.
In addition to her love of Jesus and music, Brittany wrote poetry. She submitted a poem to a regional fine arts competition and scored so highly with the judges that she was invited back to compete at the national level.
Brittany's pain and struggles in this life were deep and they were real. If anyone reading this is dealing with similar struggles, please don't be ashamed. Seek help. Britt wanted to help everyone and she loved everyone. She would urge you to find someone you can trust and reach out to them in your time of need. Don't say you're "fine" when you aren't. Know that you're loved and you're worth it. Don't give up hope. You don't have to be alone.
Celebration of Life Service - Sunday, August 6th at Calvary Fellowship Baptist Church, 727 Mentor Avenue, Painesville, OH 44077. Family will receive friends at 2pm and the service will begin at 3pm.
Friday, July 28, 2017
WASHINGTON (KCRG-TV9) -- Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, co-chairs of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, and Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Tim Kaine, Sen. Angus King and Sen. Tim Scott, have introduced bipartisan legislation to help youth aging out of foster care with housing needs.
“One of the biggest challenges facing older foster youth is aging out of care and being without a place to live,” Grassley said. “This bill would make it easier for such youth to get federal housing assistance so they can continue their education, get a job and have a good start into adulthood.”
“Homelessness and poverty are a real danger for teenagers when they age out of foster care,” Stabenow said. “We need to do everything we can to help them transition to stable and successful adult lives, and this bill helps with that process.”
“Every year, I am given the opportunity to welcome young leaders from the Foster Youth Internship Program into my office. It is amazing to see them push forward towards their goals, in spite of many challenges," Scott said. "That is why it is important for us to lift them up when necessary, and this bipartisan bill will help our foster youth who are aging out of care prosper and continue working to achieve the American Dream.”
The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act would grant priority preference for federal housing assistance to foster youth who are aging out of care and allow youth in foster care to apply for housing assistance at the age of 16, prior to aging out, which in many states occurs the day foster youth turn 18.
Foster youth face an especially difficult transition period from childhood to adulthood, and as many as 37 percent become homeless soon after aging out of care. Even more face housing instability such as frequent housing changes and “couch surfing.” They are particularly susceptible to human trafficking and other dangerous outcomes as a result.
Helping these young people access federal housing assistance will provide a safety net and allow them the opportunity to get on their feet and become self-sufficient adults.
The bill is the Senate version of a measure in the House of Representatives by Rep. Mike Turner.
Grassley co-founded the Senate Caucus on Foster with the goal of hearing directly from foster youth about the challenges they face. A focus has been on helping youth transition from care to adulthood. The transition is difficult, with some youth facing lack of employment or educational opportunities, substance abuse and homelessness.
Sunday, July 23, 2017
The OHIO Youth Advisory Board will be facilitating two workshops during the Fostering Pathways to Success conference on October 12, 2017:
1.) Taking Your Future From Vision to Reality:
Youth will identify their vision for the future and receive tools to help map out the next steps to that future.
- Youth will set specific personal goals for their future (“My Vision is…” shirt)
- Youth will receive hands-on support in mapping out action steps to move forward (“Please back my vision”)
- Youth will be informed with resources to help them build that future (IL Roadmap draft)
2.) Time Management: Turning Your Passion Into Plans
As foster youth, we often come from chaos in our biological homes, experience chaos during our time in foster care, and then try to build stability as young adults. This workshop will help.
- Youth will receive concrete tools (Passion Planners)
- Youth will learn tips on time management and prioritizing.
Friday, July 21, 2017
Throughout the summer, the FYI Program interns spend time researching about policy issues affecting foster children across the country. These experiences allow the interns to create a policy report that is presented at a congressional briefing and released to child welfare advocates across the country.
2.) Congressional Foster Shadow Day
3.) National Foster Care Youth and Alumni Policy Council
This is a two year commitment that includes regular phone calls, meetings and trips Washington, DC. Flights, hotel and food costs are covered.