Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Letter to the Editor: Thank you, Governor, for standing by foster youth

As published in the Columbus Dispatch on February 15, 2020, page 10B, Section: Editorial and Opinion, Column: Letters to the Editor:

The OHIO Youth Advisory Board and ACTION Ohio serve as the statewide voices of foster care youth and alumni. We read over the Initial Findings Report by the Governor’s Office of Children Services Transformation with interest.

We are deeply grateful to Gov. Mike DeWine for the continued commitment he demonstrates in caring about foster youth and elevating the voices of youth and alumni by including our voices in these initiatives.

Testimony by our members during the recent foster care forums reflected the top three priorities that we as the firsthand consumers of foster care have identified: the creation of Foster Youth Ombudsman’s Office, better independent living and normalcy practices, and preserving sibling connections.

These priorities directly impact the immediate experiences, long-term outcomes and emotional well-being of young people.

As the council works toward making its final recommendations, it is our hope that all who bear this great responsibility continue to uphold the work that Governor DeWine has long championed — ensuring that voices of youth and alumni are not overlooked.

Lisa Dickson, Westerville

P.S. One sentence was omitted by the paper for brevity, but I think it’s important, so I’m adding it here:

The definition of “transformation” is a thorough and dramatic change. We believe in Ohio’s capability to achieve metamorphosis and move beyond business as usual.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

National Advocacy in 2020

Link to more photos

In 2020, Ohio will be facilitating multiple trips to DC in order to continue to support and celebrate FYI vouchers, and to seek to #BringFSHOHome

Our February trip included:
  • Meeting with Heather Zenone, Senior Policy Director for Representative Karen Bass of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth 
  • Dinner with Chris Patterson, Regional Administrator at U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Region IX 
  • Meeting at HUD Headquarters with Danielle Bastarache, Director of HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher program, and others 
  • Meetings with Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Senator Mike Crapo (Idaho) and Senator Chuck Grassley (Iowa) who introduced the Senate version of the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act 
  • Meeting with the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials 
  • Participation in the 2nd annual National Association of Realtors Conference 
  • Participation in an Open House at the national headquarters of the Children’s Defense Fund 
The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act (HR 4300) passed unanimously in the House of Representatives on November 18, 2019. In the meantime, a partner bill (that mirrors this one) has been introduced in the United States Senate.

Please visit this link to learn more about the history of the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act.

We welcome foster care youth, alumni and allies from throughout the nation to take the time to write letters of support to your U.S. Senator and sign the online petition for this national opportunity.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Senate version of Fostering Stable Opportunities Act is introduced

The Senate version of the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act was introduced this week by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA).

Senator Grassley is the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Senator Brown serves as Ranking Member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

The bill was introduced with no changes. The wording of this bill has been honed by foster youth for years, and they wanted to maintain its integrity.

1. Press Release
2. Thank you letter to Senator Brown
3. Thank you letter to Senator Grassley
4. Proponent testimony by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Roman receives Rising Up and Moving On Award during 2019 PCSAO Conference

Roman Sandhu serves as Vice President for 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.

As a youth advocate, Roman has traveled to Washington, D.C. twice to represent his fellow foster youth. In 2018, the OHIO YAB was honored to be nominated by Senator Rob Portman as his 2018 Angels in Adoption® Honoree. In 2019, Roman participated in Three Days on the Hill, an annual trip facilitated by ACTION Ohio to provide foster care youth and alumni with opportunities to further their leadership development. He participated in a meeting with HUD Secretary Ben Carson, and helped facilitate a federal briefing.

During both of his trips to DC, Roman advocated for the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act. The concepts contained in the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act have been written and refined over six years by foster care youth and alumni, with the goal of bridging
the gap between foster care and housing stability, and building a platform for self sufficiency. Roman also spoke with federal legislators about the Improved Employment Outcomes for Foster Youth Act, which would make transition-age foster youth one of the populations that are targeted by the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, and incentivize employers to hire transition-age foster youth.

 As an OHIO YAB Officer, Roman has exemplified the guidelines of the OHIO YAB Code of Conduct. He has helped facilitate youth brainstorming sessions during statewide meetings of the OHIO YAB. Roman always comes to meetings prepared. He participates in OHIO YAB Officers calls, and has worked tirelessly on the budget for the statewide board.

Roman has recently graduated high school and started college. We are proud of him for all that he has accomplished, and we believe in his ability to continue to do great things in the future. It is always a pleasure to stand side-by-side with Roman, with the goal of improving outcomes for his fellow foster care youth.