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.
Overcoming Hurdles in Ohio Youth Advisory Board