I am not finely tuned into the foster care system, Ibut got this press release today from the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services via the Highland County Press. Since I’m no longer in my home state, I don’t hear as much as I used to, and I assumed that November was National Adoption Month/National Adoption Awareness Month like the rest of the country, and everybody was going ga-ga over baybees. Maybe it is, but the press release tells me that whatever month it is, it is also Adoption Recognition and Recruitment Month in the Buckeye State.
This press release contains nary a word on infant adoption. I’m reading a throwback to the original meaning of National Adoption Month, which was about foster care and special needs placements, not Baby Bumble. More importantly, this press release is about the rights, now codified in Ohio law, of those in foster care.
Here are some snippets from the press release;
The goal of Ohio’s foster system is to safely reunify a child with their first family, but foster and adoptive parents become a critical option when that is not possible.
This year’s theme is “Every Conversation Matters.” It emphasizes the importance of taking the time to listen and learn from youth in foster care..
If you’ve been a foster parent, or were ever in foster care, you know the system can at times seem overwhelming. To help, the State of Ohio just adopted a Foster Youth Bill of Rights, and a companion Bill of Rights for caregivers, the Resource Family Bill of Rights.
The Foster Youth Bill of Rights not only ensures that youth have a safe place to live, but also that they have a voice regarding their care and an opportunity for a normal childhood. The Resource Family Bill of Rights elevates the important role foster and kinship caregivers play in the lives of the children they care for by assuring these families are heard, supported, and valued as a part of the team.
Sen. Tina Maharath, the first Asian-American woman elected to the Ohio Senate, first Laotian-American ever elected to public office AND a foster alum was the lead sponsor of SB 254, which authorized the Bill of Rights. It was introduced on October 19 2021 and went into effect on November 15, so it was fast-tracked. From the press release that included the introduction of the bill:
Foster children’s lack of stability and support can make them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation,” Senator Fedor said. “By providing foster youth with the proper knowledge and resources, we will help make them less susceptible to traffickers who prey on the unmet needs of others. The rights outlined in this bill are a foundation we can build on to best prepare foster youth for success.”
The Foster Youth Rights Handbook given to those in care is impressive and detailed covering religion, clothing money, food, personal property, privacy, parental visitation, transitioning out of the system, resources, and more. I recognize the names of some of the advocacy organizations and foster alum individuals involved in this effort and trust them. They’ve worked on foster reform in Ohio for years and they won’t be going away.
The speed by which the bill and handbook have come together is simply astounding.
Day 22 of 30–
8 to go