Friday, May 17, 2019

2019 Meeting with Director of Child Welfare Transformation

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Today's meeting with Director of the Office of Foster Care Transformation Kristi Burre focused on three topics:

1. ) Establishing a statewide foster care Ombudsman Office, and the importance of including foster youth voice and input on the process of designing this resource.

2.) Normalcy training and safety requirements for group homes and residential placements.

3.) Appreciation for the statewide Fostering Pathways to Success Conference, and desire to include foster care youth and alumni voice in future conference planning.

Friday, April 19, 2019

2019 Ohio Medicaid Director Meeting

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We were honored to meet with Ohio Medicaid Director Maureen Corcoran on Friday, April 19, 2019.

Participants included:
  • Samantha Dillon, Vice President of the OHIO Youth Advisory Board
  • Sonja Nelson and Alex Romstedt of the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority
  • Katana Waters and Cloe Cooper of the CSCC Scholar Network
  • ACTION Ohio members: Jessica Camargo and Lisa Dickson
  • Alumni advocate Laquita Howell and her son Ralph 

Our discussion focused on:
  1. Barriers to Medicaid access for former foster youth, and proposed solutions to address this perennial problem
  2. The need for a support staff person for Scholar House III

We also suggested that the state of Ohio could create a review panel of medical professionals, including trauma-informed child psychiatrists, to address questions and concerns regarding foster care children and teens and whether the treatment and medications they are prescribed are clinically appropriate.

Friday, April 5, 2019

2019 Pathways conference

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Quotes from youth evaluations of the OHIO YAB workshop:

Normalcy, especially in Group Homes and Residential Placements

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During the 2019 statewide conference for foster youth, the OHIO Youth Advisory Board led a morning workshop and facilitated an afternoon table.

 The OHIO YAB invited each and every youth participant to share the concerns that matter most to them, and to have a voice when it comes to OHIO YAB advocacy priorities in 2020

 The #1 issue that has come up, over and over again is: “Normalcy, especially in group homes and residential placements.”

Here are some direct quotes from what youth shared in writing during the 2019 Pathways conference: 
  •  Group homes should be used as a last resort 
  • They aren’t good for certain kids. 
  • I think group homes are not good because of the many limits of what you are allowed to do. 
  • I think residential placements are worse because they can be very unsafe. Need more cameras. 
  • I don’t like being in group homes. We don’t get freedom. Need more cameras in the rooms to keep us safe. 
  • Staff members aren’t trained on how to de-escalate conflict 
  • Without normalcy, group homes feel like jail because we have no freedom. 
  • When it comes to civil freedoms, it’s not normal to have to earn them 
  • Too many limits that make kids feel different 
  • Too many limits because of past experience 
  • Feeling normal is very hard 
  • Shouldn’t feel like a jail. 
  • Youth clients in residential should be able to have as much freedom as they can, instead of being locked in all day. 
  • Residents should be able to have as much normalcy as possible. 
  • Some group homes are way too hard on the kids. 
  • Need more normalcy and equality. 
  • Not allowed cell phones 
  • Equality: it’s not our fault for being in this situation. Please stop the dehumanization of foster youth. 
  • They should focus more on each individual. 
  • Too many limits. Also saying, “No,” because of what someone did before 
  • They should provide better preparation for adulthood. They don’t do it enough or go over it. 
  • Please listen to us more 
  • I feel they should support more of our thoughts and feelings 
  • Please give us normalcy and remember that we are people too 
  • Please support and understand our efforts to build a future 
  • Providing normalcy makes our time in foster care easier, when and if it happens 
  • Being able to see family: 1 month waiting period 
  • Having to earn visitation with family 
  • Having to earn trust to be able to see family on birthday 
  • It hurts going to school and not having the same freedoms. 
  • I think we should have the right to a phone. 
  • Wanted to go to church and they required photo IDs etc for us to go 
  • Feeling confined, voiceless, no one listening to concerns 
  • No favoritism. Staff should not bully youth. 
  • Need more cameras to keep us safe, due to bullying and abuse that happens (multiple youth listed and asked for this)

Friday, February 1, 2019

Updated OHIO YAB Youth Rights Handbook

The new version of the OHIO YAB Youth Rights Handbook has been released.

Copies are being distributed by ODJFS to all Ohio foster youth, ages 14+

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

2019 Meeting with the Governor's Office

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Link to more photos.

On Tuesday, January 29, 2019, Ohio foster care youth, alumni and allies held an introductory meeting with LeeAnne Cornyn, Director of Children’s Initiatives for the Office of Governor Mike DeWine and Chelsea Cordonnier of ODJFS.

Participants included representatives from the OHIO Youth Advisory Board, ACTION Ohio, Adoption Network Cleveland, and the Columbus State Scholar Network.

The agenda focused on:
  1. Introductions and well-deserved congratulations to LeeAnne Cornyn
  2. Appreciation for Governor Mike DeWine and the many ways that he has served as a champion for Ohio foster youth in his former role as Ohio Attorney General
  3. Creating a statewide Foster Care Ombudsman’s Office
  4. Reforming Ohio child welfare funding
  5. Establishing an ongoing communications mechanism to stay in touch and keep working together

Thursday, January 17, 2019

2019 January OHIO YAB Meeting

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Link to more photos.

During the 2019 January Statewide Quarterly Meeting, OHIO YAB Founding Member
Kierra Williams shared creative hands-on Leadership Skill Building Activities.

She also facilitated the breakout session on Strategic Sharing.

The OHIO YAB agenda also included:
  1. Updates on how the Sibling Bill is progressing on a statewide level.
  2. Next steps regarding federal advocacy to end the Foster Care to Homeless Pipeline.
  3. Providing printed copies of a draft Toolkit to support county and regional Youth Advisory Boards for participants to field-test in in their area.
  4. Additional break-out sessions on Bridges, Mind Matters, and Ohio CASA's upcoming new webpage for foster youth.
  5. Mind Matters was a decision-making guide that was created back in 2015. Ohio foster youth have expressed interest in renaming, redesigning and relaunching a tool to inform and empower youth regarding both medication and emotional health.