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May 11, 2010

HEY’s biweekly e-newsletter contains links to articles, reports, and information of interest to the foster care community. Click on the article title to see the full text at www.heysf.org.


In This Issue

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Community Opportunities
The Homeless Youth Capacity Building Project Announces upcoming web seminar

Wednesday May 19th from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Runaway and Homeless Youth Act
With the Notice of Funding Availability for RHYA funds due out soon, now is the time to start thinking about your application. This training will provide you with an overview of one of the primary federal resources specifically designated for serving homeless youth.

Upcoming Events
May is National Foster Care Month...You Can Change a Lifetime!

All children — including the 463,000 American children and youth in foster care —  deserve a safe, happy life. Young people in foster care especially need nurturing adults on their side because their own families are in crisis and unable to care for them.

Each May, we salute the compassionate people who make a difference by serving as foster parents, relative caregivers, mentors, advocates, social workers, and volunteers. Thanks to these unsung heroes, many formerly abused or neglected children and teens will safely reunite with their parents, be cared for by relatives, or be adopted by loving families.

But some children in foster care are less fortunate. Most communities across the country are urgently seeking more everyday people to help these youth overcome their troubled childhoods and realize their full potential. No matter what their age, every young person in foster care benefits from a meaningful connection to a caring adult who becomes a supportive and lasting presence in his or her life.

Take a closer look at the number and diversity of people who were once in foster care. It might surprise you. In fact, there are an estimated 12 million foster care alumni in the U.S. representing all walks of life.  Behind this statistic are countless stories of children who grew up to be thriving adults while others struggled with life’s challenges all alone. The difference between triumph and tragedy will become very clear as you read about these foster care alumni. Success stories come about when someone takes the time to offer comfort, provide support, give advice, or simply share a milestone moment with a youngster enduring a difficult family situation.

Now is the time to get involved. No matter how much time you have to give, you have the power to do something positive that will Change a Lifetime for a young person in foster care.

Responding to the Needs of Children and Families of the Incarcerated in Health and Mental Health Care Settings

www.fcnetwork.org

FAMILY AND CORRECTIONS NETWORK – WEBINAR ON WED, MAY 5 (3-4:30 EST)

Health Care settings are chief among the systems that serve children and families of the incarcerated, typically without directly addressing the impact of parental incarceration on child health and development. There are many questions regarding the existing conditions and health outcomes for children of incarcerated parents. The question of whether unaddressed health conditions both physical and emotional, create additional risks that can negate the protective factors provided by mentoring and other supportive programming ultimately leading to negative life outcomes is of great concern. There also many questions related to how health and mental health care providers can best support parent/caregivers and parent -child relationships for children with parents in prison or jail.  For the first time ever, Health and Mental Health Professionals will engage with those directly impacted by parental incarceration to address current thinking and recommend responses that will inform practice and policy in health care and in other community services for children and families of the incarcerated.

Starstruck -- Portraits of Everyday Heroes

An Exhibit of Photography by students of Fostering Art, a creative arts program for current and former foster youth. Meridian Gallery, 535 Powell Street. May 20th, 6-8pm

The Homeless Youth Capacity Building Project Announces upcoming web seminar

Wednesday May 19th from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Runaway and Homeless Youth Act
With the Notice of Funding Availability for RHYA funds due out soon, now is the time to start thinking about your application. This training will provide you with an overview of one of the primary federal resources specifically designated for serving homeless youth.

This newsletter is solely for informational purposes; the legislative information and articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Honoring Emancipated Youth or United Way of the Bay Area.

If you would like to submit an announcement for a future HEY e-Newsletter, please email [email protected]

Local, State and Federal Policy Updates
Cutting foster care money likely costs California in the long run

Date: Monday, May 03, 2010
Source: Contra Costa Times (California)
Author: Byron Williams

WHEN THERE’S a fiscal crisis like the one facing California, it is expected that programs, even those proven effective, might face drastic cuts or elimination. It is clear programs related to foster care have fallen into this unfortunate category.

Without the benefit of high-priced lobbyists, the state’s financial ax can fall on foster care without much blow back or political reprisal.

California’s THP-Plus program, which provides transitional housing and life-skills training for youths transitioning out of foster care, is facing drastic cuts for the second year in a row.

Last May, $80 million in cuts resulted in 400 social workers being laid off, the elimination of stipends for transitioning youths, reduced the number of foster youths able to attend college and forced 1,400 THP-Plus participants and 200 of their children onto the streets.

Moreover, 65 percent of 18-year-olds coming out of California’s foster care system are homeless within a year and this shameful statistic could get much worse very soon.

In January, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2010-11. Among his budget proposals was the complete elimination of THP-Plus funding, if the state is unable to secure an additional $6.9 billion in federal funding.

For many in foster care, the transitional age of 18 often results in being dropped off at a bus station with their clothing and other personal items in a garbage bag and a few dollars in their pocket.

This is the norm more than the exception, representing the initial stage for many who may permanently end up on society’s margin.

Up to 80,000 youth will find themselves in the state’s foster care system. Mostly low-income and minority, these children often struggle with mental or emotional problems.

In the Bay Area, roughly 600 youth annually lose access to all state-funded foster care services once they reach 18. Without housing, education or emotional support, in addition to the 65 percent that will face imminent homelessness, 20 percent will be arrested or incarcerated, 46 percent will complete high school and only 1 percent will graduate from college.

Moreover, 70 percent of the inmates at San Quentin have some experience with the foster care system.

The state is systematically grooming children who are among the most vulnerable and emotional portions of society, by forcing them to immediately confront, without much preparation, life’s bitter realities.

The brutal irony to this dilemma, the rationale for cuts in services today, will almost certainly be ignored should the need arise to do more to address the crime that many within the failed foster care system will likely commit.

The difficult dilemma California finds itself facing raises a familiar philosophical question: Why is there more money for reactionary policies than proactive measures?

First Place for Youth, located in Oakland, receives THP-Plus funding. It assists foster youth through the transition into adulthood and has been such as success story that it has rapidly spread throughout four Bay Area counties and is expanding this summer into Los Angeles:

86 percent of First Place’s kids end up in stable housing.

70 percent attend college.

First Place graduates are one-third as likely than other foster-care youth to be arrested or to have a child before the age of 21.

The range of services First Place for Youth provides are often things that most of us take for granted, including housing stability, economic stability, education attainment and community connections.

It is not uncommon to see blank stares during the “how to fill out a job application” segment when kids are asked to put down emergency contact information. It is especially disheartening to know that the reason for the blank stares is that “nobody” is the appropriate response.

Later this month, Sam Cobbs, First Place for Youth’s executive director, will be acknowledged for a Leadership Award from the James Irvine Foundation.

Cobbs has led an organization whose primary mission is to work with a faceless population that too often is not a priority when it is time to discuss the budget.

Based on its record, any reduction in First Place for Youth’s ability to deliver services stands to have an adverse impact on the communities it serves. Given California’s recent track record and deteriorating economic condition, it is likely First Place for Youth will once again face drastic cuts.

Even in a fiscal crisis, cuts to the foster care system will not save the state money in the long run. If anything, it is apt to cost California more, much more, down the line.

Freed from prison, some juveniles have no place to go

Nearly 10 percent of the inmates in Illinois’ juvenile prisons have essentially completed their sentences – in some cases more than a year ago – but are stuck behind bars because they have no place to go, state records show. Many of the youths are being held longer in one of the state’s eight juvenile prisons because officials cannot find an appropriate placement in a transitional living program or other kind of facility. Others are still in prison because officials found the homes of families or friends to be unacceptable, or because families simply refuse to take them back, according to records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

To read the full article from the Chicago Tribune click on this link: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-juvenile-prison-trapped-20100331,0,3782827.story

Lawsuit Restores Help for Thousands Denied Social Security, SSI

Class Action Lawsuit to Return Over $500 Million to Those Wrongly Cut-Off

New America Media, News Report, Paul Kleyman, Video by Cliff Parker,

Editor’s Note: Thanks to a class-action court settlement, a quarter-million elders and people with disabilities can now reapply for wrongly stopped or denied Social Security or SSI benefits. Those cut off because of old or mistaken arrest warrants can reclaim their share of $500 million in lost benefits nationally.

Rosa Martinez didn’t know what to do when the Social Security Administration told her two years ago that the agency was stopping her disability assistance because she had an outstanding 1980 arrest warrant for illegal possession of prescription drugs in Miami. A resident of Redwood City, Calif., she has never visited Miami.

Martinez, now 53, had to quit work as a health care worker when she developed fibromyalgia, a painful and energy-sapping chronic condition. With her only income source terminated, she borrowed from friends and family to make her rent and buy food. She pleaded with a series of bureaucrats that she could not be the same Rosa Martinez named in the old warrant, a Rosa eight inches taller. But those please fell on deaf ears.

“Maybe God put me in this situation so I could help others,” she said at a New America Media press briefing, where she and legal aid attorneys described how she became the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit, Martinez v. Astrue, against the Social Security Administration. Michael Astrue is the Social Security commissioner.

The class action lawsuit led to federal court settlement that will return up to $500 million to about a quarter million people, who had their Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) supports wrongfully cut off by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

To read the complete article click on this link:

http://news.newamericamedia.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=0558ef6187f619f7486b6b8277953293

Responding to the Needs of Children and Families of the Incarcerated in Health and Mental Health Care Settings

www.fcnetwork.org

FAMILY AND CORRECTIONS NETWORK – WEBINAR ON WED, MAY 5 (3-4:30 EST)

Health Care settings are chief among the systems that serve children and families of the incarcerated, typically without directly addressing the impact of parental incarceration on child health and development. There are many questions regarding the existing conditions and health outcomes for children of incarcerated parents. The question of whether unaddressed health conditions both physical and emotional, create additional risks that can negate the protective factors provided by mentoring and other supportive programming ultimately leading to negative life outcomes is of great concern. There also many questions related to how health and mental health care providers can best support parent/caregivers and parent -child relationships for children with parents in prison or jail.  For the first time ever, Health and Mental Health Professionals will engage with those directly impacted by parental incarceration to address current thinking and recommend responses that will inform practice and policy in health care and in other community services for children and families of the incarcerated.

Hearing Examines Foster Care Education Needs

On Thursday, April 29, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held another in a series of hearing on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). This hearing focused on special populations including students in foster care, migrant and homeless students, and children with disabilities. Kayla VanDyke spoke as a representative of the foster care community and impressed a number of senators with her eloquence and accomplishments. She is a high school student who is in foster care and is attending school in Eagan, Minnesota. Kayla outlined the challenges and barriers she faced in getting an education as she moved from various placements. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) introduced her as a guest from his state. He is also sponsoring the Fostering Success in Education Act, S. 2801. The bill would create a program similar to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education program to encourage collaboration between schools and child welfare agencies to assure that children in care get access to needed education.

The Fostering Connections to Success Act (P.L. 110-351) requires child welfare agencies to make sure that a student in foster care be allowed to continue in his or her school of origin or, when in the child’s best interest, be given immediate enrollment in a new school. Some child welfare agencies have not been able to get the cooperation they need from school districts, since the mandate is on the child welfare side only.

Despite being in 10 different schools and 7 placements, Kayla is successfully overcoming huge barriers to graduate and is planning to go on to college. Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) was impressed with her testimony and offered her high praise. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) was also impressed; she congratulated Franken on his legislation and asked that she be added as a cosponsor. The HELP Committee is holding a series of hearings before they act on ESEA reauthorization.

President Kicks Off Foster Care Month

President Barack Obama kicked off National Foster Care Month by issuing a proclamation recognizing the promise and potential of youth in care. In his statement he highlighted some of the goals and accomplishments of his administration as they pertain to youth in care. The proclamation also celebrates the child welfare workforce and the foster parents who give so much to these youth. In addition to diligently working to implement the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, President Obama and his Administration provided more than $35 million in 2009 to the Adoption Incentives program in order to increase the number of children adopted from the foster care system, as well as funding for the IV-E adoption and foster care assistance program through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The recent enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will ensure Medicaid coverage for former foster youth beginning in 2014. President Obama ended his statement with a call to celebrate the triumphs of children and youth in care, as well as the commitment to continue to work to remove barriers to permanency.

HEY Foster Care Library
FosterEdConnect.org

FosterEdConnect.org is an online community connecting and supporting California’s foster youth liaisons, foster youth advocates, and all professionals working to improve the educational outcomes of foster youth.

FosterEdConnect.org is a central place where people working directly with foster youth can:

  • Find and share resources
  • Ask and answer questions
  • Read and post current news

On FosterEdConnect.org, you will find everything from fact sheets explaining key legislation to handbooks and lesson plans. You will also be able to share your own resources with individuals in your county and throughout California. Members are encouraged to contribute new resources as they find or create them. Thus, FosterEdConnect.org will grow and change over time, along with the knowledge and expertise of its members.

This website will also connect you to a network of individuals who share your goals. Here, you will be able to ask and answer questions, have conversations, and collaborate with experts and peers across the state.

In addition, the website will keep you up-to-date on news and events relating to educational opportunities for foster youth. You will be able to read and upload news items, as well as learn about – and publicize your own – advocacy activities, trainings, conferences, and community events.

Fact Sheets about Foster Care for the National Foster Care Month Campaign

The NRCPFC prepared fact sheets about foster care for the National Foster Care Month campaign. For each state and the District of Columbia you can find the following information:

  • Number of children in foster care
  • Average age and number of children in care by age range
  • Gender
  • Race/ethnicity of children in out-of-home care and of the general population in the state
  • Average length of stay in care
  • Percentage of children reunified with parents or primary caretakers
  • Number of licensed foster homes
  • Percent of youth living with relatives
  • Percent of children adopted by foster parents and by relatives
  • Contact information to find out how to become a foster parent in that state.

Most data was supplied by the Children’s Bureau for Fiscal Year 2003. Some states have provided more current statistics from their own data systems.

http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/info_services/fact-sheets.html

New Online Resources

Homeless Resource Center: http://homeless.samhsa.gov/default.aspx

Center for Mental Health Resources: http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/cmhs/

Both funded by SAMHSA

Honoring Emancipated Youth
United Way of the Bay Area, 221 Main Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 808-4435 • Fax (415) 817-4615
Visit us at www.heysf.org