Foster care alumna and Children Services Transformation Advisory Council member Juliana Barton was able to work with amazing allies at CSCC and the Council in order to hold a dinner/pre-meet before the Columbus Foster Care Forum. This provided a personalized opportunity for participants of Columbus State’s Scholar Network for former foster youth to share their insights with the Council.
Office of Children Services Transformation Director Kristi Burre and Policy Manager Kari Akins made it possible for participating foster care alumni to fill out testimony slips ahead of time.
As a result, 11 foster care alumni were able to share testimony during the Columbus Foster Care Forum. These included Cloe Cooper, Gabriella Craft, Ashley Williams, Jaye Turner, Nicole Chinn, LaShondra Tinsley, Amadea Jennings and Caidyn Bearfield. (Cloe Cooper read Lisa Dickson’s testimony aloud because Lisa had lost her voice).
Kristi Burre started off the forum by stating that, “This evaluation of our system is a long time coming and we know there’s a lot of work to do.” She explained how an Executive Order by Governor Mike DeWine (who is a long-time champion of Ohio foster care youth/alumni) led to the creation of the Council. Here is a link to additional photos from this event.
Just as in his former role as Attorney General, DeWine held a series of Child Safety Summits, in his current role as Governor, he directed the council to host a series of forums: “All are invited to attend, and those with lived-experience with the foster care system are encouraged to submit testimony.”
This was one of ten Foster Care Forums facilitated by the council.
OHIO YAB President Samantha Dillon shared her voice at the SW forum, and Vice President Roman Sandhu and Parliamentarian Stevie Hayslip submitted written testimony. Jonathan Thomas spoke at the NW forum and submitted written testimony; his testimony was quoted in the Toledo Blade.
Foster care alumni including Jeremy Collier, Kim Rhyan, Tatyana Rozhnova, Alexis Cook and Stephanie Burns shared their voices in the Cincinnati Foster Care Forum. Amber Donovan and Kate Lodge helped to transport and prepare foster care youth and alumni to participate in the Cleveland Foster Care Forum. Multiple foster care youth and alumni shared testimony during the Cleveland forum.
Additional testimony was submitted in February, on behalf of Ohio foster care youth and alumni.
It was great to hear from foster care allies as well.