Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thought on Approaching the New Year

We are approaching a new decade -- can you believe that?

I am hoping that it's a decade of continued positive change regarding improving outcomes for foster care youth/alumni. That's what I'll be working towards for the next 10 years.

Today, I am looking back and savoring every second and every moment of 2009...

During 2009, the Ohio chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America:
  • Testified before legislators
  • Visited various counties to build youth advisory boards
  • Supported Ohio Reach efforts to increase the number of foster care youth enrolling in and graduating from college 
  • Co-hosted the youth track of the NACAC conference
  • Shared our insights nationally and locally
  • Had Ohio's First Lady present during our Thanksgiving event
We will continue to move forward during the next decade...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Real Research On Foster Care

As a former foster child and current youth advocate, the research I respect most comes from the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ohio Reach radio interview

We are now approaching a new decade -- can you believe that?

And I am hoping that it will be a decade of continued positive change regarding improving outcomes for foster care youth/alumni

That's what I'll be working towards...

Let's talk about Higher Education Outcomes.

I recently attended and presented at a 'College Night' for foster care youth and their mentors. The information shared was a bit overwhelming to participants, both mentors and youth, in terms of mapping out everything they needed to know.

In response, I offered to help develop a timeline, and some online resources for FCCS College Bound Mentoring Program mentors.

Below is a radio interview regarding Ohio Reach for WCUE/WOTL/WYTN (radio stations covering Toledo, Cleveland and Youngstown).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ohio should do something like this 2010

The annual Voices for Change competition invites Virginia foster care youth and alumni to share their struggles in moving toward adulthood, in the form of artwork, poems, essays and photography.

Read the 2009 Voices for Change book which shares their reflections, achievements, and insights about what works and doesn’t work for kids in foster care as they transition to adulthood.

And, enjoy this link to a previous year's Voices for Change book, as well!

This ongoing iniative is sponsored by Voices for Virginia’s Children and the Virginia Poverty Law Center, in partnership with Art 180 and FACES of Virginia Families.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Unemployment Rate Highest for Ages 18-19

  • The national youth employment rate is at its lowest level in 60 years.
  • Nearly four million of the nation's unemployed are under age 25 - and that number does not include the hundreds of thousands of youth who have simply given up looking.
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, young adults between ages 18-19 years old have the highest unemployment rate, at 25.6%.
  • The unemployment rate for youth 16-24 years old who have not finished high school is over 30%.

In the aftermath of Ohio budget cuts, some counties are terminating the cases of foster care youth when they turn 18 years old, regardless of whether or not that young person has finished high school.

Due to frequent school changes, some of these young people are only in their junior year of high school.

Imagine being declared an independent adult when you are only a junior in high school. Being unemployed. Without family support. Lacking the money to buy food. Unable to afford housing.

For a young woman, there are programs - but only if she becomes pregnant. For a young man, there is only the local homeless shelter or food pantry.

  • At the very time when our young people are getting ready to launch into adulthood, and share their gifts and  talents with the world, their futures are being short-circuited.

  • If that foster care youth had been sheltered by the state for only one or two years longer, they might at least have a diploma and be able to apply for higher education.

The Campaign for Youth is calling for a National Youth Initiative to create jobs for youth to work, while providing them with the wrap-around education, work skills, and supports that they need.

The Ohio chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America is calling for a statewide advocacy strategy to address shortsighted practices that are leading to Ohio foster care youth being pushed out of the nest without sufficient preparation and support.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Memories of My Mother Will Never Die While I'm Alive

It's my Birthday Eve and the "Shadow Year" is almost over...

All year, this year, I've been the same age that my mother was when she died.

So, every day in 2009, I've tried to make each day count and make a difference -- which has made it a Sunshine Year, after all..

Thursday, December 03, 2009

FLUX: Life After Foster Care

More than 100 foster care alumni contributed to writing FLUX: Life After Foster Care, a book written to support young people during the emotional transition from foster care to adulthood.

There are many emotional challenges during the journey from foster care to adulthood, including:
  • How to parent, when your only parent has been a 'system'
  • How to build relationships, when you've learned not to trust
  • How to handle contact with biological family members

Nobody knows the emotional journey better than the foster care alumni who have traveled that path firsthand... Read FLUX -- and join in the online book discussion!