The importance of maintaining sibling connections remains a heartfelt, vitally important, and ever-present priority for Ohio foster care youth, alumni and adoptees. We continue to work on this, in partnership with Adoption Network Cleveland.
2020 Testimonials from Current and Former Foster Youth:
- Jasmine Hardy’s video testimony compares sibling separation with the pains that people are currently feeling due to social distancing.
- Jasmine Hardy’s written testimony explains how being separated from siblings feels like a punishment for foster youth.
- Jonathan Thomas’s written testimony demonstrates the positive impact of being in touch with even some of his nine siblings, and how losing even that was deeply painful: “One week, I came to visitation, and no one was there.”
- Stevie Hayslip’s written testimony demonstrates the loss and pain of prolonged sibling separation.
- Hollie Toth’s written testimony illustrates that keeping siblings together promotes normalcy and a greater sense of security.
- Lisa Dickson’s written testimony reflects on her role in helping pass the Fostering Connections Act, and desire for Ohio to make its best efforts by doing everything possible to maintain sibling connections.
- Rebecca Milewski’s written testimony shares her advocacy efforts as an adoptive parent to maintain contact between two siblings.
We are currently working to identify champions and allies with the Ohio legislature. We will continue to review research on sibling issues in foster care and adoption, and sibling legislation from other states.
When previous legislation was proposed to address this issue, foster care youth, alumni and adoptees fully endorsed this effort:
- In 2008, the Fostering Connections Act became federal law. Ohio foster care alumni had helped advocated for this in DC. The act includes provisions in section 206 that specific that reasonable efforts shall be made to place siblings together when they are placed in out-of-home care.
- In 2017, the Fostering Sibling Connections Bill (HB 448) was introduced in Ohio by Representatives Sarah LaTourette and Janine Boyd.
- The OHIO Youth Advisory Board launched a statewide letter writing campaign.
- Letters of support were submitted by OHIO YAB Officers Samantha Dillon and Stevie Hayslip, and by other foster youth and alumni throughout the state.
- On January 16, 2018, Ohio foster care youth shared their insights as part of a panel during an Interested Parties Meeting about HB 448.
- When the bill was referred to Committee in 2018, testimonials were shared by foster care alumni on June 20, 2018, including Amanda Davis and Jessica Camargo.