Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Five Things You Can Do To Make A Positive Difference

My recent postings have focused largely on areas in need of reform. But I also want to make clear that I have a lot of hope and faith that we can create and inspire positive change!

Here are five things that you can do in order to make a positive difference for young people "aging out" of the foster care system:

1.) Youth advisory boards: Youth advisory boards are a wonderful first step in empowering youth, building their leadership skills and helping them to be agents of change to positively impact the system!

If you are a young person, it's worth your time to get involved! If you are a foster parent, please allow the young people in your care to pursue this opportunity! And, if you are a social worker, please encourage youth participation as well...

2.) Legislative forums: There are many opportunities to share your voice and youth voice with legislators to make a positive difference!

For example, during the months of July-August, OACCA is holding Independent Living forums around the state of Ohio in order to better address the needs of young people transitioning from various "systems" - including foster care.

3.) Mentoring: The bumper sticker on my car says: "If you can't be a foster parent, why not be a mentor?" Being a mentor is a wonderful way to build into another person's life.

Some of my previous blog entries outline foster care mentoring programs, such as:

-CWLA's Fostering Healthy Connections Through Peer Mentoring
-In My Shoes; an Arizona-based foster care alumni-led program
-Mentoring USA, based in New York but willing to travel to share their model
-Orphan Foundation of America's virtual-mentoring program
-Transitioning Teens Program, which has a great partnership with their local CASA

If the area where you live doesn't have a mentoring program for foster care youth, you might consider contacting some of the above resources to request their help in starting one!

4.) Wiki of resources:
This weekend, I watched couple of free videos on how to create a wiki on youtube, and then created Life After Foster Care in Ohio.

One thing that you can do is become the local expert in your area. You don't have to have "all the answers" at the onset. Your knowledge will grow as you become more involved.

Ways to increase your knowledge about foster care resources:
Visit your local library
Surf the net
Call local agencies and ask questions
Don't give up

5.) Sponsoring youth membership in Foster Care Alumni of America: Foster care youth and alumni deserve to be connected to a community that they can belong to forever, and never "age out" of...

They deserve current and future chances to use their experiences to positively transform the child welfare system. Their voice will only become stronger and their message more articulate with age.

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Comments:
Hi Lisa. I checked out a lot of these links last night, and wow you are doing really awesome.

Keep up the good work.
Danielle
 
These are all great ideas that really demonstrate how very easy and possible it is for anyone and everyone to make an amazing difference in someones life. Wonderful post!
 
Mentoring is SO important, IMO. Just a little glimpse of normalcy can be so healing for some kids.

Very nice blog you have here. :)
 
Holly Schlaack uses her professional knowledge as a guardian ad litem to powerfully deliver information on the situation facing young foster kids and what all of us can do about it. I loved her book, Invisible Kids, (www.InvisibleKidsTheBook.com).
 
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