Thursday, March 29, 2012

Stark County YAB: Life After Foster Care

From the time of the Stark County youth advisory board’s inception, foster care youth involved in the board have expressed the desire to improve outcomes for young people "aging out" of foster care.

Stark County foster care youth have been recognized on a national basis:
2010 FosterClub All-Star, Jeremie Austin-Brown
2010 FosterClub Outstanding Young Leader, Rico Rushin

In 2011, the Stark County Youth Advisory Board sponsored a training called "Finding Your Way to Success: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty." This training was a five-week series, and 28 local foster care youth/young adults attended. This training was a huge success, and will be repeated in 2012.

Stark County foster care alumna Richard Rushin presented at a South Dakota conference of Reclaiming Youth International.

In 2012, the Stark County YAB has invested in:
  • Purchasing voice recorders so the youth can practice public speaking, and prepare for an upcoming speaking engagement in April: Presenting to 165 Children Services' workers at Stark County's Spring Staff Meeting.
  • Purchasing a laptop for the Board

In the words of Julie Hayslip, one of Stark County's adult supporters, "This is our most active excited board ever! Our youth not only meet on Fridays from 4-6pm but they have chosen to start meeting on their own every Monday at our local library!! They are working on business cards, they are putting together a brochure and writing a formal request to attend the NILA conference!

"They are planning on sponsoring a Life Book Training for the kids in custody. They have elected officers. They officially have a YAB room here at our agency and we are going to get furniture and wall art and even have a YAB logo they created that they want painted on the wall.

"They are also interested in starting a mentoring program for younger kids in care. This is on their To Do list!"

Representatives from the Stark County Youth Advisory Board were recently featured on a Channel 3 News story that discussed the struggles youth have when they emancipate.

Lorain County YAB: Leadership Lorain County

Lorain County foster care youth/young adults and supportive staff have a powerful history of statewide leadership including serving in the following positions for the Ohio Youth Advisory Board:
  • 2009 Ohio YAB Treasurer Laura Johnson
  • 2009 Ohio YAB Parliamentarian James Burge
  • 2009 Secretary Katrina Gallimore
  • 2010 Ohio YAB Vice President Cieria Rodriguez-Toney
  • 2010 Ohio YAB Treasurer, James Burge
  • 2010 Ohio YAB Treasurer Krystal Robinson
  • 2011 Ohio YAB President Cieria Rodriguez-Toney
Foster care youth and young adults in Lorain County continue to live out that legacy of leadership on a local level...
In 2011, Lorain County Leadership was involved in the following local activities:
  • Organizing a donation of holiday ornaments/purchased ornaments/made ornaments
  • Volunteering their time at a local nursing home at the holidays to hand out the ornaments
  • Participating in the Lorain County Children Services Holiday party for children in foster care. They handed out presents and helped organize children to see Santa at the party.
  • Developing a Holiday party for all of the Independent Living youth to participate in.
The Board developed their own FaceBook page, and organized for presenters to come to the agency and teach Leadership skills to all of Lorain County foster care youth (LaTasha Watts and Cedric Brown).

On a statewide/regional level,  Lorain County foster care youth and young adults participated in the 2011 Career and Entrepreneurship Event for Foster Care Youth and Alumni. They also attended the NE Ohio FCAA Thanksgiving Dinner and encouraged many other youth to participate in this activity.

 Upcoming activities of Lorain County Leadership include the following:
  • Participating in the “Wear Blue to Work” campaign to draw awareness to National Child Abuse Prevention Month
  • Participating in the development, creation and implementation of a flash mob during the upcoming local family fun day at the mall. This flash mob will include caseworkers, foster care youth and young adults, friends, family, and other supporters/advocates for foster youth. They will be doing a dance. All of the members will have blue shirts to draw attention to Stop Child Abuse.
Current initiatives also include:
  • Participating and assisting in the upcoming Purple Project conference. Youth have been asked for input on some of the ideas for the conference and will be volunteering to work the registration tables.
  • Researching colleges/vocational programs and setting up college visits for all of the youth to participate in.
  • Participating in discussion about recruiting foster parents for teens. Have identified the necessary characteristics of these individuals. Currently brainstorming regarding what to develop and implement to be successful on recruiting foster parents for teens.
  • Discussion of sending some of the Youth Leadership members to the NILA conference.

Summit County YAB: Leaders of Tomorrow

Summit County foster care youth and young adults aspire to be the "Leaders of Tomorrow."

Participation and involvement in the Summit County Youth Advisory Board benefits foster care youth, and young adults with a foster care history, by building camaraderie and facilitating an atmosphere of empowerment and improved self-esteem.

One active member of this board found it easier to adjust to her new adoptive home, due to having positive support from her peers. Another young person described YAB involvement as “the experience of a lifetime.”

Through involvement on the board, foster care youth have opportunities that they would not have otherwise. They are viewed as difference-makers, rather than simply as clients or recipients of services. During their presentation at a local CASA Dinner, for example, they were considered “honored guests.”

In the meantime, local organizations who invite Summit County’s “Leaders of Tomorrow” to present at their events are impressed by the fact that youth conduct themselves with poise and maturity, address each question with honest and insightful answers, and express appreciation to front-line staff and CASA volunteers for the work that they do...

In 2011, the Leaders of Tomorrow were involved in:
  •  Leading monthly trainings for all court staff
  •  Speaking engagement during Adoption Advocacy Day in Columbus  
  •  Presenting for agency staff during the Placement and Permanency Planning Retreat in December
Several of their members have also participated in the Crossover Youth Permanency Model discussion at Summit County Juvenile Court. 

Recent activities of the Leaders of Tomorrow include:
  • Regular trainings at their local juvenile court for CASA volunteers
  • Foster parent training for Summit County and two private agencies
The leadership team is currently preparing for:
  • An April speaking engagement for the Child and Family Awareness Symposium
  • A presentation for a May foster parent conference
  • A June training for all the social services staff at Summit County Children Services  (caseworkers, supervisors, social work assistants, etc)
  • A speaking engagement for the Child & Family Awareness Symposium next month.
The Leaders of Tomorrow are being honored by the United Way of Summit County in April as a part of their volunteer celebration.

They were also chosen as a possible recipient of a grant through Leadership Akron, a collective group of active community stakeholders.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Fairfield County Youth Advisory Board

Congratulations, Fairfield County Youth Advisory Board Officers:

  • President Kaytie Roger
  • Vice President Kia Williams
  • Media Spokesperson Tyler Reigle
  • Secretary Shyanna Fritz
  • Parliamentarian Destiny Williams
  • Treasurer Cory Griffin