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Connection in a Coffee Shop

Dear Friends, I’m sitting in a cozy coffee shop on a cloudy winter morning. Behind me a group of five gray-haired gentlemen chat about HGTV (of all things!). A dad and his sleepy teenager in a school uniform split a giant blueberry muffin wordlessly as two large coffees are handed to them. The wind blows in two little boys, their mom trailing behind them with a pajama-­clad toddler in her arms. The girl behind the counter knows them all. This is a place of belonging, a place where the simplicity of connection takes center stage and suddenly, the world doesn’t feel like one big mess no matter what news is streaming live across the globe. In our frenzied desire to fix the world and manage our lives, it’s easy to overlook the power of connection; the magic medicine that soothes our weary souls, tired bodies, and anxious minds. The sense [...]

By | January 4th, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Connection in a Coffee Shop

Former Foster Youth Spotlight: Stephanie

My name is Stephanie Cruz. I'm currently a wife and most importantly, a mother to a 2 year old little boy. Before that I was a foster child. I was in foster care 2 times in my 21 years of life. My first go around wasn't a bad experience. I missed my mother and my foster parents cared for me and did their best to help me as a parent should. I was only 8 years old when I was taken from the disruptive life I was living. It was 7 longs months before the court allowed my siblings and I to reunify with our mother. The second time around was a completely different experience. I sought help to leave the place I called home. I’m the one who asked the judge please don't make me go back home. It wasn't my mother who I wanted to run from. It [...]

By | September 18th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Former Foster Youth Spotlight: Stephanie

The Street We Call the Child Welfare System

If you saw an infant crawling across a street alone, would you stand there and watch? Would you look the other way? Would you think, not my baby, not my problem?   I doubt it. I think you would sweep in, dodge traffic, and risk your very life to pluck that little one from danger. I think you would be outraged and shocked. I think the image would haunt you and keep you up at night.  It should. Unbelievable as it may be, there are far too many children dying in a street we call the child welfare system. It is a dark and busy well-worn road riddled with broken concrete, shards of glass, and too many sinkholes to count without enough manpower and resources to fix it. Who would want to work on that road anyway? It’s dangerous, traumatic, and exhausting. Lots of good people sign up for the job as caseworkers, [...]

By | September 1st, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on The Street We Call the Child Welfare System

First Breaths, Last Breaths and What Comes Next

Twelve years ago, a blue-eyed baby boy took his first breaths in this great big world. His single mother subsequently took him home to a life of dysfunction, poverty, abuse and neglect. I often wonder what his first days, weeks, months were like as he grew into a toddler. Did his mother love him?  I believe she did. She simply didn’t have the skills necessary to take good care of him. Did he love his mother? I think he did. He used to bring her fistfuls of dandelions and weeds that he picked from their front yard. This blue-eyed boy took his last breaths sweating to death in an inferno closet where summer heat soared and his sweat soaked the blanket that bound his arms behind him and wrapped him tight like a mummy. I often wonder about those last moments when this little boy died alone, gasping for air. [...]

By | July 8th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on First Breaths, Last Breaths and What Comes Next

Together We Can Change the Child Welfare System

Who is responsible for foster care children residing in virtually every zip code across America? The answer might surprise you. It’s not your local children’s services agency. It’s not your governor. It’s not Congress or Health and Human Services. It’s not the president. It’s us. You. Me. Your neighbors. My friends. We pay the taxes. We vote the decision-makers in. And most important, we decide what we stand behind and are willing to fight for—not just when a child in foster care dies, but over the months and years it will take us to fix our very broken foster care system. I was a month out of college in 1994 when I started my career in child welfare. Armed with only a little black pager and notebook, I spent my days knocking on doors and checking on abused and neglected kids in all corners of Cincinnati, Ohio. For the next [...]

By | July 2nd, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Together We Can Change the Child Welfare System

IKP launches national campaign calling on elected officials to step up and fix our nation’s very broken foster care system.

Our children are dying. Yours. Mine. Ours. This week, a letter penned by child welfare expert Holly Schlaack is being mailed to 600+ elected officials, including President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, all of Congress, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell, all state governors, and all 2016 presidential candidates. In addition, individuals across the country will be encouraged to “sign” the letter at InvisibleKids.org as a way to convince elected officials that we as a nation demand better protection for the 400,000 abused and neglected children in our child welfare system. According to Holly Schlaack, Executive Director of the Cincinnati-based Invisible Kids Project, “The ‘Step Up and Fix This’ campaign is designed to grab the attention of elected officials, create awareness that our country’s foster care system is failing miserably, and connect people to form a united voice so powerful our government [...]

By | May 13th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on IKP launches national campaign calling on elected officials to step up and fix our nation’s very broken foster care system.

The Ten Most Surprising Things About Foster Care

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dawn-teo/the-10-most-surprising-things-about-foster-care_b_7058474.html “And that's not even getting to the civil rights of foster children who deserve to have their mental health needs met." ~Dawn Teo

By | April 12th, 2015|Blog, Uncategorized|Comments Off on The Ten Most Surprising Things About Foster Care

There are Many Ways to Help Foster Kids and Families!

Foster-to-Adoptive Parents Krista and Howard Lorenz didn’t stop reaching out to help foster kids after they adopted. Instead, they founded Warm Welcomes Foster Care Outreach, a non-profit organization that seeks to create a sense of belonging for foster kids. http://www.warmwelcomes.org/

By | March 21st, 2015|Blog, Uncategorized|Comments Off on There are Many Ways to Help Foster Kids and Families!

8 years after Marcus, foster agency faces trouble again

Did you see Sheila McLaughlin's article in the Enquirer on Sunday, 12/27 about Lifeway for Youth, the foster care agency responsible for Marcus Fiesel’s death? It reopened in four other states under a different name and is a 35 million a year company with 198 violations for the exact reasons Marcus died. That’s just plain bad and wrong. It’s time to build a community to resolve these and other foster care problems.

By | December 28th, 2014|Blog, Uncategorized|Comments Off on 8 years after Marcus, foster agency faces trouble again

Report: More than 30,000 Ohio kids are abused, neglected

An Ohio Family Violence Prevention Project report says more than 30,000 children and 105,000 elderly people are abused or neglected each year and more than 82,000 women are physically assaulted by their intimate partners. The Columbus Dispatch reports that Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said at a conference on Friday that state officials must work on prevention and identification of family abuse situations. The head of the Family Violence Prevention Project says the statistics were drawn from reporting by victim-services organizations and represents only a portion of Ohioans who are abused or neglected. If you're still not convinced that we need your help, read this article.  

By | December 6th, 2014|Blog, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Report: More than 30,000 Ohio kids are abused, neglected