Thursday, October 14, 2021

Youth Ombudsman Coalition

The Youth Ombudsman Coalition was initiated by the Overcoming Hurdles in Ohio Youth Advisory Board, which is a statewide organization of young people (aged 14-24) who have experienced foster care that exists to be the knowledgeable statewide voice that influences policies and practices that impact youth who have or will experience out of home care.

Members of this growing coalition include: ACTION Ohio, Adoption Network Cleveland, Athens CASA/GAL Program, Better Together Toledo, the Children’s Defense Fund, Columbus State Scholar Network, Community of Hope, Disability Rights Ohio, El’lesun, the Fostering Achievement Network, iFoster Inc, Junior League of Columbus, the Miresa Arts Foundation, the National Center for Housing & Child Welfare, the Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition, the Ohana Project and Think of Us.

Learn more at: https://fosteractionohio.org/advocacy-toolkit/  





Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Youth Voice in Pre-Service

Based on the OHIO YAB focus groups related to the Foster Youth Bill of Rights:

The following topics have been recommended to emphasize in Preservice training for foster parents. 

1. Normalcy
    a. Being able to access the residence.
    b. Receiving an allowance.
    c. Being allowed to participate in extra-curricular activities.

2. Home: Safety
    a. No lead-based paint.
    b. No roaches, fleas, or vermin.
    c. Need for a housing checklist.

3. Care and Supervision: Clothing
    a. Receiving clothing. 
    b. Having a choice regarding clothing.
    c. Receiving hygiene items.

4. Care and Supervision: Food
    a. Don't close the kitchen at a certain time.
    b. Don't lock the refrigerator doors.
    c. Include youth voice in menus.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Second Zoom Meeting with Representative Jarrells

The OHIO YAB and ACTION Ohio held a Zoom meeting with Representative Jarrells on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.

We deeply appreciated Representative Jarrells' offer to circle back with Representative Manchester this week regarding attached strike-through document that we recently sent her regarding HB 4, which is currently being reviewed by the Senate Judicial Committee, and will likely go next to the Senate Finance Committee.

The wording of our message to Representative Manchester was as follows:

After reviewing with participants of the Youth Ombudsman Coalition and the OHIO YAB, we wanted to make additional suggestions to the amendment drafted by LSC. We hope that the attached redlined version of the amendment helps to clarify our positions and moves us towards an amendment that can be supported by the OHIO YAB and the coalition that has been working towards a truly independent and effective ombudsman’s office.

Our redlined version of the amendment does two important  things:

  • Clearly makes the youth ombudsman a separate appointed role.  This is the primary request and this change would accomplish the main intent.

  • Clarifies that the OHIO YAB will have input in the selection of the Youth Ombudsman. This is also a primary request and goes hand-in-hand with the first request.

The following are suggestions that build off of some of the changes included in the LSC prepared amendment. These amendments continue to build on the intent of our original proposal to Representative Manchester's office.

  • Change the name from Children Services to "Youth and Family" with the "Family Ombudsman" as adult-serving and the "Youth Ombudsman" as youth-serving. 

  • Clarify that the two ombudsmen will be housed in the same office at JFS, but will not report to the Director of JFS and will not be subject to budget reductions

  • Add the OHIO YAB to the list of people who will receive and evaluate the annual report.

  • Create an appropriation line item and clarify that the Youth Ombudsman shall receive no less than 50% of the budget.


Sunday, October 10, 2021

First Focus Group: Kinship Care Youth and Alumni


Excellent insights were shared during the first Kinship Care Focus Group this morning, which was made up of individuals who have lived in kinship care placements.

The OHIO YAB and ACTION Ohio will be holding additional focus groups to gather more feedback, as well as staying in touch with those who shared insights today. This is only the beginning of work to positively improve outcomes. 

Sunday, September 26, 2021

#UPChafee


Ohio foster care youth and alumni have been working for years to propose an increase in Chafee funding. 

The Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act (H.R. 7947) which passed in December 2020, includes a temporary increase of Chafee funds by 400 million in FY 2021, which does not require a state match. 

It also temporarily extends Chafee eligibility until age 27, and allows states to lift the 30% cap on room and board and provide room and board to young people who are between ages 18 years and 27 and have experienced foster care at 14 years of age or older. 

This provision will time out on Oct. 1, 2021. We are currently working with others to request an extension of these provisions. Here is a link to the sign-on letter, which was signed by the OHIO YAB and ACTION Ohio.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Request for meeting with ODMHAS



The OHIO YAB was delighted to sign on to this letter requesting a meeting with Director Lori Criss and Sequel Pomegranate survivors.

We were joined in our advocacy by:

STATE ORGANIZATIONS 
Alumni of Care Together Improving Outcomes Now (ACTION Ohio)
Black Lives Matter Cleveland Inc. 
Children’s Law Center, Inc. 
Disability Rights Ohio 
Faith In Public Life 
InterReligious Task Force on Central America 
Juvenile Justice Coalition 
National Association of Social Workers, Ohio Chapter 
Ohio Student Association 
Opportunities Peoples Justice Leaders 
P.O.W Protect Our Women 
River Valley Organizing 
Stay Focused Movement 
Showing Up for Racial Justice Ohio 
The Freedom BLOC 
Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio 
  
NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS 
Breaking Code Silence 
Center for Children’s Law and Policy 
Children’s Rights 
National Juvenile Defender Center 
National Juvenile Justice Network 
The Sentencing Project 
We Warned Them Campaign
Youth First Initiative  

Friday, August 20, 2021

Interested Party Meeting with Representative Manchester's Office

On Wednesday, August 18th, Makayla Lang of the Wingspan Care Group and the OHIO YAB participated in an Interested Party meeting with Rep. Manchester and others yesterday to discuss Ohio's need for a Youth Ombudsman Office.

She was joined by Jermaine Ferguson and Juliana Barton of ACTION Ohio, and Kim Eckhart of the Children's Defense Fund-Ohio.