Saturday, July 07, 2018

Anniversary Steak

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Sunday, July 01, 2018

Photos from Carly's Wedding

Link to more photos.

Nathan and Lisa's 18th Wedding Anniversary

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The 18th wedding anniversary is the "cook your wife steak with a blowtorch" year -- or at least that's what the hubby tells me. The steak was delicious!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Developmental Relationship Framework

The Search Institute first created the 40 Developmental Assets, and has recently been exploring the Developmental Relationship Framework.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Time for ACTION to end the Foster Care to Homeless Pipeline

Youth who age out of foster care face many challenges during our transition to young adulthood – but our greatest challenges are related to housing. When you don’t know where you are going to sleep tonight, this makes it harder to succeed when it comes higher education and employment.

The Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness was our nation’s first-ever comprehensive federal plan to prevent and end homelessness. It was presented to Congress on June 22, 2010.

The idea behind it was that change would take place in the following order:
1.) End chronic homelessness by 2015
2.) End Veterans homelessness by 2015
3.) End homelessness among families, children and youth by 2020
4.) Set a path to ending all types of homelessness by 2020

It's strange that, from the very beginning, the mission of ending youth homelessness was ranked so low a priority on the timeline.  Why and how could ending chronic homelessness precede ending homelessness for youth?. 

If you look at homelessness as an overflowing bathtub – why not try to turn off the faucet first?   Our young people are Ready to Launch into adulthood.  If we don't help them now, they are likely to become chronically homeless later.

Obviously, 2015 has passed, and chronic homelessness has not been alleviated. 

They have since separated out:
  • Ending homelessness for unaccompanied youth under 25  
  • Ending homelessness among families with children
So, what's their plan to end homelessness for unaccompanied youth under 25 by 2020?

It looks like this. 

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It's a data strategy, rather than an action strategy. Their plan is highly based on point-in-time counts, numbers and data -- which, when it comes to youth aging out of foster care, they already have.

Chapin Hall research has demonstrate that one in five foster care alumni report being homeless for some period of time after emancipating from foster care. Without investment, the cycle will continue: 1 in 4 homeless adults is a former foster child.

Likewise when it comes to transitional youth, they also have the data.

If the below diagram was their preliminary vision back in 2010, then how has it evolved since then?  And how involved have homeless youth and young adults been in shaping that plan?

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12 years later...

Sweet surprise at my foster parent training on Friday - from a young person in foster care that I met and gave books to back in 2006. He still has the books.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Thousand People of Genoa Project

It's been a weird week, with car problems and what not. Then, I go to work and discover that I've been chosen for second part of the Thousand People of Genoa project.
The intention was to capture 1,000 portraits of the people in Columbus, which will all be exhibited in Genoa next year. Photographer Timothy Costa said he wanted to celebrate “the warmth and kindness of the people of Columbus.” So, that was pretty sweet of him.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Lisa Dickson's federal testimony on the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

United States House of Representatives
House Committee on Financial Services
Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance

Proponent testimony on:
The Amended Version of H.R. 2069, the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act

Chairman Duffy, Vice Chairman Ross, Ranking Member Cleaver, and members of the committee,

Thank you for this opportunity to offer testimony on the amended version of H.R. 2069, the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act.

My name is Lisa Dickson. As a former foster youth, I wish that I could be there in person to share how much this matters, and the potential this bill has to improve outcomes after foster care. More importantly, I wish you could hear directly from the young people themselves, in and from foster care, who have worked for six years to make this bill a reality.

I am contacting you on behalf of two volunteer organizations. The OHIO Youth Advisory Board serves as the statewide voice of foster care youth, ages 14 and older. ACTION Ohio is an alumni group of adults who experienced foster care personally, and who dedicate our time to improve outcomes for the next generation. Our two groups have been working together since 2006 to make a difference, side-by-side.

Young people enter foster care due to factors outside of their control, such as experiencing neglect, abuse or disconnection from a parent to due to death, incarceration or substance abuse challenges. As foster youth, we do not choose the family that we are born into - we can only make our own choices. In the midst of family upheaval, all we can do is seek to survive the moment at hand, and figure out how to build our future. We often feel alone in this struggle - especially when throughout the nation, over 20,000 youth “age out” of the system every year, and strive to build successful lives.

Leaving home and moving out on your own as a young adult is a milestone that many young people look forward to. But for young people in foster care, this experience often catapults them into an immediate struggle for survival. We want to attain self-sufficiency, and the most important and pressing question is: “Where am I going to live?”  Having a stable residence is critical when it comes to pursuing employment and higher education. 
Imagine being a teen in foster care who is getting ready to enter into young adulthood. You have no savings account, and no parental co-signer to move into an apartment. You worked really hard to get into college, but the dorms are closed on holiday breaks - so, the irony is that while everyone else is celebrating with their family, you don’t know where you are going to sleep that night.

I don’t have to imagine that, because I was one of those young people. When I aged out of foster care in 1989, there was no plan for my future. I had to figure out that path on my own. Thanks to support from an Admissions Counselor at the University of Kentucky named Randy Mills, I entered college at 16 years old. But I ended up homeless within a year. I continued to pursue college, even as I struggled to find an affordable place to live. I found a home in a Methodist dorm called the Wesley Foundation. With stable housing, I was able to complete college and graduate school, working up to five part-time jobs at a time.  Since then, I’ve been working as a full-time librarian for 19 years. It’s my honor to work hard, pay taxes, and seek to “pay it forward” for the next generation.

But that was back in 1989 – so why is the Foster Care to Homeless Pipeline still so prevalent today?  Our nation has moved forward in so many other areas since the time when I was in foster care. The 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act set a time limit for how long children should languish in foster care limbo before seeking to terminate parental rights. The 1999 Foster Care Independence Act established Chafee funding and independent living classes. The 2008 Fostering Connections Act provided states with the option to extend foster care supports until age 21.

And yet, housing remains the biggest missing piece after foster care. Research demonstrates the pervasiveness of this struggle. Chapin Hall’s longitudinal Midwest research study reveals that 36% of former foster youth experience homelessness before turning 26 years old. In a recent national survey conducted by Child Trends, states were asked to report the primary area in which they could do better to support young people transitioning from foster care. Not surprisingly, housing was the area most commonly marked as in need of improvement.

We have the numbers, and we have the data - what our nation needs is a sense of urgency about this problem. While children are in foster care, the Children’s Bureau measures each states’ success in caring for them by three categories: Safety, Permanence and Well-Being. But if we care about the safety of our children, it should matter to us that when they “age out” into homelessness, they are at risk of trafficking and many other negative outcomes. If we care about permanence, we need to recognize that there is nothing more impermanent than not having a stable address. If we care about well being, then we need to acknowledge the dreams, talents and aspirations of our youth – and that helping them successfully launch into adulthood benefits not only them personally, but also our nation. Given the chance to contribute to society, please know that we can and will give back.

The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act is thoughtful and intentional. It is based on the premise that we already know where teens in foster care are placed, and that we can connect them with existing housing supports by putting them on the list early. This bill is youth-driven in every sense — because the very reason it exists is that a volunteer group of Ohio foster youth and alumni have been fundraising locally and then traveling to D.C. to advocate for the past six years about the national gap that exists between foster care and housing.

We are not lobbyists or paid staff members. We are current and former foster youth ourselves - and this is an issue that deeply matters to us. We demonstrate how much we care by volunteering our time to help others. Even as we travel to D.C. annually to advocate for this need, on a volunteer basis, we each continue to pursue work, college and opportunities to give back to the community - because that’s what matters most to each of us. Our goal is to work hard, move forward and care for the next generation.

I urge you to pass this bill. The price tag is literally nothing. This is no-cost opportunity to improve outcomes for my brothers and sisters in and from foster care.

Thank you for your time. Please know that I am and will remain available for any questions.

Lisa Dickson
Alumni of Care Together Improving Outcomes Now

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Committee to Address Youth Experiencing Homelessness

In 2017, Columbus was selected to participate in a 100-Day Challenge to Address Youth Homelessness by A Way Home America, a non-profit organization that creates transformative and sustained impact on tough societal challenges.

Subsequently, the Ohio Department of Development has assembled a Committee to Address Youth Experiencing Homelessness. Committee members include representatives from the Community Shelter Board, CMHA, Huckleberry House, Star House, Capital Law School, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Buckeye Ranch, Maryhaven, and YMCA Columbus.

Their focus is: 
  • Unaccompanied youth under age 25 experiencing homelessness, with a focus on providing interventions for young people 14 to 24.

Their draft mission statement is:
  • To plan, develop and oversee a community-wide system that effectively provides a safe place to call home for all unaccompanied youth under age 25 every day.

One of their goals is:
  • To develop a System Map in order to identify providers and entities that target or assist youth 18-24, and to better understand how the client pathway to receive resources works. 

Contact Person 
Mr. Kim Stands, Human Services Coordinator
Department of Development
50 W. Gay St. 4th Floor, Columbus, OH 43215
Desk: 614.645.7571
Cell: 614.216.9397

Oregon initiative to recruit Host Homes

Youth who are “new” to our streets
are more likely to become chronically homeless
if we do not intervene within 15 nights.

The 15th Night is a community-wide partnership that helps more than 300 Oregon youth who are navigating school and life alone, without a permanent place to spend the night. 

Bringing together existing community resources, the 15th Night focuses these resources on the safety and well-being of vulnerable youth who do not have a parent or guardian to support them.

In coordination with The 15th Night, A Family For Every Child will be providing three services to the 15th Night network: mentoring, family finding, and host homes. AFFEC has been providing mentoring and family finding for a decade, but host homes are a new program created to fill the housing gap in their community.

Supports provided to Host Homes
"Housing providers are not allotted monthly stipends for supporting the youth and they assume a parental role in the relationship. However, the pair will be supported throughout the duration of their match by AFFEC and the 15th Night network. By being connected to the network, AFFEC can help youth get their Oregon ID, food stamps, clothing vouchers, and other necessities. It is not expected that those taking youth into their homes will take on a heavy financial burden when providing this service."

Host Home provider MUST have:

  • An available, private bedroom for the youth that has a bed, a window, and space for them to store their belongings.
  • At least one adult, age 26+, who permanently resides in the home.
  • Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Either renters or house insurance.
  • An economically stable living situation.

Application Process:

  1. Fill out a volunteer application. If you are looking at the form and Host Home is not listed, fill out the mentor portion of the application and indicate that you are applying for Host Homes.
  2. Complete a background check and pass a sex offender registry check.
  3. Pass a reference check. You will provide 3 references in your volunteer application that the program director will contact individually.
  4. Have a homestudy completed. This involves a member of the AFFEC staff asking you a series of questions and touring your home.
  5. Complete the orientation period.

For more information, please contact:
Emma Stahl
Permanency Director (541) 343-2856
1675 W 11th Ave. Eugene, OR 97402

Click to enlarge

One in 10 young adults, ages 18-25 years old experience homelessness

Adolescence and young adulthood represent a key developmental window. 
Every day of housing instability and the associated stress represents a 
missed opportunity to support healthy development and transitions to productive adulthood. 

 As a nation, we are missing opportunities to ensure that all young people can reach their full

potential and contribute to stronger communities and economies across the country.

Did you know that: 
  • One in 10 young adults 18-25 years old experience homelessness?  (3.5 million)

This new report Missed Opportunities from Voices of Youth Count, an initiative of Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, is the first in a series aimed at shining a spotlight on the quiet but enormous crisis of unaccompanied youth homelessness in America.

The study — also published in the Journal of Adolescent Health — captures youth homelessness broadly, including sleeping on the streets, in shelters, running away, being kicked out, and couch surfing. 
Homeless youth are at risk of hunger, poor health outcomes, physical violence, rape, and sexual exploitation.

Click to enlarge

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