Saturday, September 02, 2017

Lisa is an Erickson fan :)

I personally am a big fan of the usefulness of Erickson’s theory in relationship to foster care youth/alumni, particularly when it comes to the “Intimacy vs. Isolation” stage.
  • Erikson Stage 6: Intimacy vs. Isolation relates directly to the transitional stage of foster care.
  • The social task of the young adult (within this model) is to create strong, long-lasting bonds of friendship and love. Those that fail in this task risk remaining isolated for the rest of their lives.
  • The ability to relate to other people is affected by personal exposure to trauma. This impact is felt most deeply in an intimate relationship but also has a “ripple effect” that affects every other relationship in that person’s life.
  • Research demonstrates that adults with the highest rate of broken relationships are those who shy away from emotional investment, reject any neediness in their romantic partners and withdraw during times of emotional distress.
  • When young people age out of foster care, they are vulnerable. Emotionally abusive relationships might seem familiar. Predators might come to them, offering to help – and then wanting something in return. Or foster care alumni might try to isolate themselves and take on life as a “Lone Ranger.”
  • If the very first emotional / physical support systems of your life disappoint you, the logical response might very well be to depend upon yourself. This will often get you through the short-term, and ensure your physical survival.
  • But, if at some point, you want to commit to another person, to love and be loved by them, that might be hard. Because, in loving them, you are vulnerable to them... and that means that since they are human, there will be moments when they disappoint you. And at those times, having them fail you might bring to the surface the memories of every other time that someone from your past has failed you.
  • And what do we ultimately want for foster care youth and alumni?  We want them to establish interdependent lives. We want them to build and maintain healthy relationships. We want them to learn to trust, to develop autonomy, to be industrious (aka productive), to know their worth (vs. feeling inadequate) to figure out their own identity, and to create lives of connection, rather than isolation


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Friday, July 28, 2017


And for supporting the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act, proposed in direct response to YEARS of advocacy by current and former Ohio foster youth, I now like Senator Al Franken (formerly Stuart Smalley on Saturday Night Life) even more.

Senators introduce their version of the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act


WASHINGTON (KCRG-TV9) -- Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, co-chairs of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, and Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Tim Kaine, Sen. Angus King and Sen. Tim Scott, have introduced bipartisan legislation to help youth aging out of foster care with housing needs.

“One of the biggest challenges facing older foster youth is aging out of care and being without a place to live,” Grassley said. “This bill would make it easier for such youth to get federal housing assistance so they can continue their education, get a job and have a good start into adulthood.”


“Homelessness and poverty are a real danger for teenagers when they age out of foster care,” Stabenow said. “We need to do everything we can to help them transition to stable and successful adult lives, and this bill helps with that process.”

“Every year, I am given the opportunity to welcome young leaders from the Foster Youth Internship Program into my office. It is amazing to see them push forward towards their goals, in spite of many challenges," Scott said. "That is why it is important for us to lift them up when necessary, and this bipartisan bill will help our foster youth who are aging out of care prosper and continue working to achieve the American Dream.”

The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act would grant priority preference for federal housing assistance to foster youth who are aging out of care and allow youth in foster care to apply for housing assistance at the age of 16, prior to aging out, which in many states occurs the day foster youth turn 18. 

Foster youth face an especially difficult transition period from childhood to adulthood, and as many as 37 percent become homeless soon after aging out of care. Even more face housing instability such as frequent housing changes and “couch surfing.” They are particularly susceptible to human trafficking and other dangerous outcomes as a result.

Helping these young people access federal housing assistance will provide a safety net and allow them the opportunity to get on their feet and become self-sufficient adults. 

The bill is the Senate version of a measure in the House of Representatives by Rep. Mike Turner.

Grassley co-founded the Senate Caucus on Foster with the goal of hearing directly from foster youth about the challenges they face. A focus has been on helping youth transition from care to adulthood. The transition is difficult, with some youth facing lack of employment or educational opportunities, substance abuse and homelessness.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Child Welfare Funding and How States Use It


*Click on picture to enlarge.
Visit this link to learn more.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

This Week News: Lights, Camera... ACTION!!

Day by Day: ‘Aging out’ of foster care can bring difficulty
By Liz Thompson, This Week News, July 3, 2017.

Her mother died of cancer when she was 10. Her father was physically abusive and she was removed from the home. In foster care, she lived in an emergency shelter, an all-girls group home and a co-ed group home.

Lisa Dickson was inspired by these experiences to become an advocate for change. At 16, she was accepted into college -- her lifeline into the future.

“I remain forever grateful to Randy Mills, former admissions counselor at the University of Kentucky, for literally walking me down the hall to financial aid and telling them, ‘This girl has no family to help her -- this girl needs grants,’ ” said Dickson, now a Westerville resident.

“It sounds great to say that I started college at age 16 -- but by age 17, I was homeless due to trying to rescue my former roommate from a group home. This urge to rescue others is so strong that we Ohio foster-care (alumni) currently lead a workshop called ‘When Helping You Is Hurting Me,’ ” Dickson said.

During her time in foster care, Dickson said she often had no voice. Today, she listens to the voices of current and former foster youth. They stand side by side to improve outcomes for people in and from foster care.

Dickson considers it an honor to volunteer as communications chairwoman of Alumni of Care Together Improving Outcomes Now Ohio, and as co-facilitator of the Overcoming Hurdles in Ohio Youth Advisory Board. She helped create both groups in 2006. Their initiatives include annual trips to Washington, D.C., to share their hard-won experiences and advocate for policy change, such as ending the “pipeline” from foster care to homelessness.

“What I don’t get is this: I aged out of foster care in 1989 and ended up homeless,” Dickson said. “Why are today’s youths still aging out into homelessness? We could and should and must do better.”

U.S. Rep. Michael Turner (R-Dayton) created the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act as a direct result of one of those visits to Washington.

This act, with no additional spending required, allows foster-care youth who are close to “aging out” of foster care to jump to the front of the waitlist for housing assistance when they reach 16 years old.

ACTION Ohio’s Suits for Success program provides professional attire to current and former foster youths who are preparing to enter the workforce. Suits for Success needs a future storage location for donated suits. The organization welcomes suit donations on an ongoing basis. It often pairs distribution of the suits with job-interview simulations and resume practice.

“Time and time again, our young people tell us that it’s not enough to know what the resources are -- they need coaching and guidance regarding how to access them effectively.”

Two such places are Capital Law School’s free Family and Youth Advocacy Center for current or former foster youths and Columbus State Community College’s Scholar Network.

“Even after graduating college, as a foster-care survivor, it can feel lonely to be ‘one of the ones who made it,’ ” Dickson said. “Our young people today deserve to have campus liaisons like Randy to support them.”

Holidays and birthdays can be lonely for current and former foster youths, when many families gather to celebrate.

“I’ve been married for 17 years and have two beloved stepdaughters, but I don’t expect them to understand what the foster-care experience was like for me,” Dickson said.

On Thanksgiving 2007, Dickson and other former foster youths from across the nation traveled to Washington to encourage the federal government to extend foster-care support to age 21. They shared Thanksgiving dinner on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

From 2008 onward, Ohio has held statewide and regional early Thanksgiving dinners for foster-care teens and alumni. Dickson serves as lead planner.

“When we come together as brothers and sisters of the foster-care system, we can encourage and support one another. We celebrate each other’s success and continue to improve outcomes for the next generation.”

Much needs to be done, as an average of 150 children in Franklin County alone age out of foster care every year.

For more information, email info@fosteractionohio.org

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Thoughts on Director Comey's Testimony


It might sound weird to say this - but when I hear Former FBI Director Comey giving his legislative testimony, all I can think is that I wish I had someone like him for a father.

He is a Boy Scout of a man. He makes unpopular decisions based on his own integrity.

I would have loved to have had a father like that.

PS: 


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Thursday, June 08, 2017

Foster Care and Superpowers


Message to today's young people who are currently transitioning from foster care into young adulthood:
  • It's part of the healing process to remember and think through the memories of what we have each experienced before, during and after foster care
  • During that process, we ALSO have to move forward to survive
  • So, PART of our brain as a young adult who has experienced foster care is focused on immediate existence and future practicalities
  • While the OTHER part is sorting through the past, and finding ways to heal 

I'm not saying that this is easy - because it really isn't. But it is necessary to survive. And the aftereffect for those of us who make it is often super-resiliency.

By super-resiliency, I mean that: "I am like a weed. You can put me down anywhere, and I will likely find a way to survive -  and more than that - I will find some element of joy there. I will find a way to be happy and move forward."

 #AfterEffectOfHealingAfterFosterCare


Sunday, May 07, 2017

Definition of Stewardship

It is a great big beautiful thing to create something new, but the next step is to maintain it, year after year - because the need doesn't change based on current popularity.

Sometimes, the maintaining part bumps up against behind-the-scenes complications and all kinds of crazy politics. But we can, and will, and MUST overcome them.

And that's the definition of a weird word called "stewardship."  To be a "steward" means: the careful and responsible management of what has been entrusted to you.

We need a better word for this. Steward sounds sort of like sewage. It's not a sexy word at all.

Let's talk about other words that might better express the heart behind this effort:

- commitment
- consistency
- conscientiousness
- vision
- purpose
- responsibility

We need to talk about what it means to be in this for the long-haul.

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