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House Bill 50: The Fostering Connections Act-Update

You may have read our last post,House Bill 50: The Fostering Connections Act . If you did, you know that this bill will expand foster care services to the age of 21 in Ohio, if not check it out! This bill has excited a lot of youth, parents and staff working to emancipate children successfully from Ohio’s foster care program. So what has happened since the bill passed? We wanted to let you know!

The Foster to 21 Program has officially been given a name and is now known as, Bridges. It was given this name to best convey what it actually will be: a voluntary “bridge” from foster care to independence. Youth who age out of foster care will be able to request housing or other supportive services at any time between their 18th and 21st birthdays.

An advisory committee was put together by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services back in October and has been meeting regularly to discuss how to build the Bridges program and implement it effectively. They have been tackling tough issues surrounding the program’s infrastructure and policies such as how youth will smoothly transition from foster care to Bridges, identifying Ohio Administrative Code rules that may be affected by the program, as well as new rules that may be necessary to support the program, and how to effectively market this program so youth will want to take part in it.

There is still much to figure out, but we do know that in order for foster youth to be eligible for the Bridges Program they will have to meet one of the following criteria:

  • Completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential.
  • Enrollment in an institution that provides post-secondary or vocational education.
  • Employed for at least 80 hours per month.
  • Incapable of doing any of the above activities due to a medical condition, and incapacity is supported by regular documentation from a medical professional.
  • Participating in a program or activity that is designed to remove barriers to employment.

We also know that youth enrolled in the program may be in a variety of supervised living situations, including:

  • Apartment living
  • Room & board arrangements
  • College or university dormitories
  • Host homes
  • Shared roommate settings

The Advisory Board will continue to work along with The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services to build the Bridges Program and support one of our most vulnerable populations; youth emancipating form the foster care system. Right now, the program is set to be implemented on December 11th, 2017.

What do you all think of this new program? Share your comments below and be sure to check in for more updates as information is released regarding this impactful change on our system!

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National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Awareness Month and this year’s Adoption Day celebration is on November 17th in Franklin County.To honor this month and create awareness surrounding adoption, UMCH has participated in the #OneDayProject.

“The day an adoption is finalized is one you’ll never forget. The National Adoption Day Coalition created the One Day Project to share with the thousands of waiting children and families what this “one day” feels like.”

We at UMCH have so many amazing families that have offered a forever home to a child or children in need. We will have 25 adoptions in 2016 alone! Here is what that one finalization day meant to some of  our families and what it can mean for the lifetime of a child:

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“This is from day Miranda was adopted. We didn’t tell her until 15 minutes before our meeting with the judge. She was so used to meetings at the courthouse that she thought it was just another day….” Now we celebrate ” Headapohl Day” every year.” -UMCH Adoptive Family, Dan and Mary Headapohl

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“Such a fantastic day! While Risen stole our hearts and we knew she was part of the family from day one, today we are able to state she is officially a Schreiber! We want to thank UMCH and Franklin County for being so organized and accessible through the process! We feel fortunate that the process went so smooth! “-UMCH Adoptive Parents Michael and Megan Schreiber

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“The best day of our lives! Enjoy everyday watching him become a man”-UMCH Adoptive Parent, Sam McKenzie

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The beginning of an exciting new adventure! He is an amazing kid with an amazing future ahead of him.”-UMCH Adoptive Parent, Sam McKenzie

 

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“Jeremiahs “gotcha” day was nothing short of amazing. Much like the days I gave birth to my biological children it was filled with tears of joy. This process was trying and stretching for our family, but we wouldn’t change a single challenge for getting to keep JJ in our family forever. That night as we put our kids to bed our 6 year old said ” I am so thankful that no one will ever take JJ out of our family. I love my little brother”. – UMCH Adoptive Parents, John and Danielle Schlitt

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“Welcoming Peyton, Grayson, and Avery into our family has changed our lives. I have always known that I could make a difference in the life of a child, but I never knew how much an adoptive child could make a difference to our family. I know that we are better people because of our experience fostering and adopting.”- UMCH Adoptive Parents, Sue Vargo and Jen Zegler

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“Our 2 latest adoptions, 8/18/15 James and 5/2/16 Morgan and Bradley— numbers for our family 9,10 and 11” -UMCH Adoptive Family, Walter and Teri Gabriel

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“On the day the adoption was finalized it felt like we finally got the family we had been wanting for a long time. It took awhile for the realization that we get to keep the boys forever to really sink in!”- UMCH Adoptive Parents, Derik and Misty Pace