Saturday, August 28, 2010

U.S. Government Sets Goal to End Youth Homelessness in 10 Years


On June 22, 2010, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness released the nation’s first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness: Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.

One of the objectives in the plan is to advance health and housing stability for youth exiting foster care and juvenile justice systems. 


The Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs’ Solutions Desk for Helping Youth Transition will continue to publish best practices for homelessness prevention, rapid re-housing, and service provision for homeless youth.

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Find Youth Info


Map My Community is a tool designed to assist in locating resources in your community to help you build and strengthen your youth program. It's a great way to brainstorm regarding building new partnerships, identify gaps in your community, and learn about existing resources, in order to avoid duplication of effort.

The Program Directory is a searchable database of evidence-based, federally-funded youth programs. You can search for programs by risk factor, protective factor, or keyword.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

College Completion Crisis


The College Board has recently released its College Completion Agenda 2010 Progress Report.

The 2008 report Coming to Our Senses: Education and the American Future by the Commission on Access, Admissions and Success in Higher Education revealed that the number of students who completed college and high school in the United States had dropped dramatically,

In response, a set of 10 recommendations were made, in order to help boost the graduation rate.

Additionally, the State Policy Guide created by the College Board and National Conference of State Legislatures. This resource includes a variety of recommendations, including the College Completion Agenda.

The commission’s goal, to achieve a rate of 55 percent of young adults receiving a postsecondary credential by 2025, will continue to be measured on a regular basis.

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Ohio Workforce Coalition's 2010-2012 Public Policy Platform


The Ohio Workforce Coalition has been working over the past year on a public policy platform, with the goal of:
  • Reducing barriers for adults pursuing education and training.
  • Meeting the workforce needs of Ohio employers.
  • Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the state workforce development system.
The Ohio Workforce Coalition's 2010-2012 Public Policy Platform includes the goal of 'Improving the efficiency  and effectiveness of  the state workforce development system' by making these three recommendations:

A. Leadership. Appoint a cabinet-level workforce official to lead Ohio’s workforce development activities across all state agencies, and establish workforce committees in the Ohio legislature.

B. Coordination. Adopt a policy to assure that all available federal workforce education and training funds are fully used, and work with local agencies to establish a baseline level of consistent Workforce Investment Act (WIA) services that will be provided throughout the state.

C. Data. Establish cross-agency performance measures and issue an annual workforce education and training report card with county-level data.

Their 2010-2012 Public Policy Platform makes recommendations regarding coordination of funding streams and calculation financial aid as well...

Regarding funding, they are concerned that, "There are multiple federal funding streams that can be used for workforce training and supportive services for people in training, but Ohio does not have policies in place to assure that these resources are fully accessed and effectively used statewide."

 Therefore, their recommendation is:

1. The Governor’s office should issue state policy to assure that all state agencies, counties, regions, or districts are using available federal workforce education and training funds. Funding streams include Federal Transportation Funds, the SNAP10 Employment and Training Program, and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.

2. The Governor’s Workforce Policy Board, in collaboration with local WIB directors and the Department of Job and Family Services, should develop a set of key statewide WIA policies. These policies should assure that workers, job-seekers, and employers have access to a baseline level of consistent WIA services everywhere in the state and that WIA implementation is not subject to more restrictive local policies and practices.

Regarding financial aid, they write that, "Because Ohio’s FY 2010-2011 budget cut the Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG) by over 57%, the Ohio Board of Regents implemented a policy that eliminated access to OCOG for students at community colleges and regional branch campuses—many of whom used this need-based financial aid to cover living expenses while they were in school."

Therefore, the Ohio Workforce Coalition recommends that:

1. The Ohio Board of Regents’ calculation of the cost of attendance at public two-year colleges, which is used to determine OCOG availability, should be modified to include living expenses for the most disadvantaged students.

2. The Ohio Board of Regents should permit OCOG funds to be used at all USO institutions for non-credit and occupational certificate programs that prepare students for strategically targeted, in-demand occupations.
  • Adjusting the Ohio College Opportunity Grant formula to include living expenses for students at two-year colleges.
  • Improving awareness of and access to programs and resources that can help adult students succeed in postsecondary education and training.

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2010 Ohio Medicaid Atlas


The 2010 Ohio Medicaid Atlas contains amazing maps and detailed demographics regarding various populations - but emancipated foster youth are not among them.

Despite the fact that current and former foster successfully advocated to extend Medicaid coverage for foster care youth until age 21, there remain barriers to access regarding these benefits that still need to be overcome.

When Ohio foster care youth between the ages of 18-21 go to their local Medicaid office to apply for benefits, they have run into the following challenges:
  • The staff person they speak to is unaware that emancipated foster care youth are eligible for Ohio Medicaid until age 21
  • The young person is told that their card is "in the mail," and six months or more go by without the young person ever receiving it
  • The young person does initially receive Medicaid, but services are dropped before the young person reaches age 21
As I mentioned in a previous blog post:

"The Fostering Connections Act of 2008 requires States to create and maintain a health oversight and coordination plan for each young person in foster care, in order to ensure that each child receives regular and comprehensive care, access to services beyond his or her 18th birthday, and a medical passport."

My hope is that Ohio foster care youth, alumni and allies can continue to work together towards this goal.

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Report Finds That Fewer Than Half of African American Males Graduate On Time


A new report from the Schott Foundation for Public Education reveals that the overall graduation rate for African America males attending U.S. public schools during the 2007-2008 was 47%.

According to the 2010 Schott State Report on Black Males in Public Education, half of the states in the county have graduation rates for African American males below the national average for students.

To find out how your state is doing, please visit the national map of Individual State Report Cards.

In Ohio, for example, African American male youth are:
  • Six times more likely to be expelled
  • Twice as likely to be diagnosed with mental retardation
  • Half as likely to be entered into gifted/talented programs
The overall opportunities to learn provided for African American male youth in Ohio were determined to be 21% that of other students.

This is a percentage that needs to change.

The Report Summary contains a helpful chart on page 9 that maps out the Conditions for Success vs. Conditions for Failure.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

2010 Top Fostering Blog


SunshineGirlOnARainyDay was recently awarded the Top Fostering Blog Award by Online Schools. The award winners for this category were announced on August 12, 2010.

This award highlights the very best blogs to learn about foster care and child welfare. 

Recipients are nominated by the internet community. The list of candidates is scored based upon twenty attributes, including content, frequency of updates, length of posts and readability. The top 1% of nominated blogs receive awards.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

New HHS Regulations on Title IV-E IL Programs for Youth 18 and Older


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released regulations on how states may extend their Title IV-E foster care programs for foster youth between the ages of 18 and 21.

These regulations provide flexibility to states to serve these youth in virtually any type of placement setting – foster homes, a semi-supervised apartment, host home, college dorms, and other less formal settings.

Furthermore, the regulations state that HHS has “no forthcoming regulations that will prescribe the kinds of living arrangements considered a supervised setting, the parameters of supervision, or any other conditions for youth living independently.”

This is great news for two reasons:

a.) HHS is permitting states to have flexibility to use creative and innovative programs to serve these 18, 19, and 20 year-old youth.

b.) It does not set precedent that would interfere with a state’s ability to draw down IV-E for the placement of teenage foster youth, under age 18, in supervised or semi-supervised apartment settings.

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Three Research Briefs re: Foster Care & Educational Outcomes

 Opening Doors to Higher Education for Youth in Foster Care
The Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy Policy Brief (March 2010) discusses the difficulty for youth in care in going to college. This brief outlines financial aid reforms that are necessary to help as these youth attempt to get a postsecondary education.

http://www.scaany.org/documents/cpa_policybrief_highereduc2_may2010.pdf

Foster Youth Education Initiative Releases Report on Improving Opportunities for Foster Youth
Foster youth lack parental advocates to monitor their academic progress, attend parent-teacher conferences, enroll them in appropriate classes, and ensure they receive a quality education. As a consequence, they often fail to receive the opportunities necessary to succeed in school.

NCYL’s Foster Youth Education Initiative (http://www.fosteredconnect.org/) has released its long-awaited report on how California is ensuring that foster children receive academic opportunities by creating educational advocacy systems for youth. This report includes overviews of 11 models, and concrete recommendations to improve outcomes.

http://www.youthlaw.org/fileadmin/ncyl/youthlaw/education/CA_Education_Advocacy_Systems_1_.pdf

Addressing the Unmet Educational Needs of Children and Youth in the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems
This report, published by Georgetown Public Policy Institute’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, discusses the poor educational outcomes that many child welfare and juvenile justice involved youth face:

http://cjjr.georgetown.edu/pdfs/ed/edpaper.pdf

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Healthcare for Transitional Foster Care Youth

Every year, 26,000 youth emancipate from foster care on their 18th birthday - many of whom immediately lose vital medical coverage as a result.

At this point, only 32 states extend Medicaid coverage to foster care youth beyond age 18.

Even when states do extend Medicaid coverage for foster care youth until age 21, actually being able to access that coverage has been a major challenge for many transitional foster care youth. In Ohio, for example, many transitional foster care youth have waited months to receive their card, only to then have their Medicaid services dropped prematurely.

The National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators has authored an issue brief, Addressing the Health Care Needs of Transitioning Youth, that describes how some States are working to provide health care to youth who are transitioning out of foster care and into independence.

The Fostering Connections Act of 2008 requires States to create and maintain a health oversight and coordination plan for each young person in foster care, in order to ensure that each child receives regular and comprehensive care, access to services beyond his or her 18th birthday, and a medical passport.



InsureKidsNow.gov, a website that offers State-specific information on health insurance coverage for children through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, now offers an online toolkit for professionals.

The National Children's Healthcare Toolkit, designed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services contains a variety of information, materials, tools, and tactics to assist in education and outreach efforts.

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Monday, August 09, 2010

Ohio's Budget: Steady Fiscal Control in Turbulent Times

According to OBM Director Pari Sabety's presentation:

  • The United States is recovering from the deepest recession in 50 years
  • Economic recovery will be slow
  • States and local governments continue to need federal assistance and fiscal relief
  • Current projections from Moody’s show that key economic indicators will not recover to pre-2007 levels until 2013-2016
One of the main issues in crafting the 2012-2013 budget is how to fill the projected gap from one-time funding sources -which is between 6-8 billion dollars.

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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Wisconsin invests federal stimulus dollars in Transitional Jobs Project


Kudos to Governor Jim Doyle for investing $34 of million of federal recovery funds in transitional jobs to help thousands of people across the state of Wisconsin gain skills and re-enter the workforce - including emancipated foster care youth.

In his latest state budget, Governor Doyle directed the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to create the Transitional Jobs program. The Transitional Jobs  Project targets Wisconsin residents who are not eligible for working family assistance through the state’s W-2 program, including young adults exiting the foster care system.

It's estimated that this project will help create jobs for 4,000 people across the state.

The Department of Children and Families will work closely with 17 local organizations to carry out the pilot project in 38 counties, with the possibility of future expansion throughout the state:

  

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    Permanent Supportive Housing and Evidence-Based Practice


    After many years of development, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Center for Mental Health Services has finalized and posted a Supportive Housing Toolkit.

    While this kit was developed specifically to assist individuals with mental health needs in attaining supportive housing, my hope is that some of the research and best practices found in this toolkit might be applicable to transitional youth, particularly emancipated foster care youth, as well...

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