Friday, March 17, 2017

Foster care is a bipartisan issue

I am heart-happy about Ohio's fifth annual Three Days on the Hill. ❤️❤️❤️

One thing really amazed and encouraged me during this year's trip to DC:

I had been anticipating and worrying that the growing political divide in our country might negatively impact our legislative visits

But there was NO difference at all between our visits with Republican vs. Democratic offices:

- They both saw foster care as a bipartisan issue.
- They both understood that our young peope who "age out" of foster care just want to build positive and productive futures
- They both totally *got* that helping a young person succeed in college/workforce meant a future taxpayer later on

When we talked about youth aging out of foster care without a savings account to afford housing... former foster youth needing to pay rent a year in advance due to having no co-signer... former foster youth being asked to pay hundreds of dollars to stay in a dorm (their only home!!) during campus breaks...

This was eye-opening to ALL offices. And they cared and were receptive to our proactive suggestions of solutions.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

I agree with these recent quotes from Dan Rather:
"Now is a time when none of us can afford to remain seated or silent. We must all stand up to be counted. History will demand to know which side were you on."
He references the Declaration of Independence: 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
And then he adds:

"These truths may be self-evident but they are not self-replicating. Each generation has to renew these vows... the direction of our ship of state has not always been one of progress. We interned Japanese Americans, Red Baited during the McCarthy era, and more. I feel the rip tide of regression once again swelling under my feet. But I intend to remain standing."

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Top Priority for 2017

Improving long-term outcomes for young people in and from foster care <3 span="">
Let's start from there - settle for nothing less - and then move backwards.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Creating learning experiences for foster youth

Do you remember being a teen, and those specific experiences that, at the time, seemed like the most important moment in the world?

This very interesting research study demonstrates that: 

1.) Teens are better at learning from "reinforcement learning" than adults are

2.) Teens engage both the hippocampus (memory) and striatum (decision-making) regions of their brains at the same time, while adults tend to alternate between using one or the other

3.) Therefore, the experiences that teens have are rich with opportunities to create memories and educate them on making future decisions

The researchers’ conclusion was that the adolescent period of risk-taking and impulsive decision-making may be especially beneficial because it improves our reinforcement learning.  In simplest terms, reinforcement learning is making a guess, being told whether you’re right or wrong, and using that information to make a better guess next time.

As we work to ‘make memories’ for foster youth, this is a great reminder that teens are particularly sensitive to and responsive to the experience of the moment. 

In our interactions with teens, we have the opportunity to provide learning opportunities that can shape their understanding of the world. 

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Supporting our brothers and sisters of the foster care system

Sometimes our siblings of the foster care system try to put on a brave face and not show the world that they are struggling - right up until the moment that all the dominos fall down. (this is something that I did after aging out)

When that happens, we need to figure out the best way to help them. Not just for the moment, but building a way to succeed in the future:

1.) Are they connected with statewide and local resources that could help them in this situation?

2.) Have they reached out to local and statewide resources and asked for help?

3.) Do they have a local support network - and if so, are there ways that we could advise that support network to do specific things to help them?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Quick Tips for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care

Thinking about some of the top things I wish someone had told me when I first aged out of foster care:

1.) Give your best to each day, every opportunity,  and the moment at hand and focus on building your future
#‎yourfuturematters‬ ‪

2.) There are and will always be some people in your life that will try to bring you down. Do your best to safeguard yourself against the haters and surround yourself with those who truly care and want you to succeed.


3.) It's okay to struggle while navigating through the unknown.  Common sense doesn't really exist - it's just something that somebody's parents took the time to tell them. It's okay to *not know* the things that nobody ever took the time to tell you.

Don't blame yourself for not knowing -- just seek to learn from it, and strive to pave a pathway for others to succeed when someone finally cares enough to take the time to give you a roadmap

4.) Please remember to thank those who help you along the way. Saying thank you is an essential part of advocacy.

Thanking those who help us when we need the most can re-energize them to help others in the future.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Need to find a way to celebrate and support former foster youth who graduate college and grad school

It can be incredibly disheartening for former foster youth to work so hard to earn a degree, and then be immediately be reminded of their lack of family privilege immediately upon college/grad school graduation.

Because they still aren't sure how to fund moving expenses and future housing and food costs after graduation -- even when they are offered amazing jobs.

This can feel terribly overwhelming without family support.

I still remember what it was like after I graduated with my Masters degree from the University of Kentucky. Thankfully, the Ohio workplace that hired me was willing to pay my moving expenses.

Even then, I couldn't afford an apartment right away, so I slept on the floor of a friend of a friend in Columbus for the first 2-3 months. She let me keep my stuff in her basement, until I had saved up enough for an apartment.

 I remain altogether grateful for both of these two privileges: moving expenses covered by future workplace, and having a floor to sleep on.

Not former foster youth gets those two things after college/grad school graduation.

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