Kate Lodge, Vice President of the YWCA’s A Place 4 Me, spoke about the foster care system at a forum held at the Lakewood Public Library on Tuesday April 18th.
Lodge discussed the importance of supporting young people who age out of foster care.
“If any of you have young adult children you know they aren’t done growing up yet. They can be one rent check away from being homeless.”
Lodge also discussed the YWCA’s A Place 4 Me program.
“We are a housing first community. We don’t say get it together and then we will help you. If you give someone housing they have the stability they need to get it together.”
A Place 4 Me serves young adults who have recently aged out of the foster care system. 40% of residents are heads of households and 50% are unemployed. A Place 4 Me gives them social support, assistance finding employment, and help finding housing.
The forum was moderated by Philip Morris, a columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and also featured Professor David Crampton from Case Western Reserve University, Betsie Norris, Executive Director of Adoption Network Cleveland, and Edward L. Gilbert, an Author, Attorney and Foster Care advocate.
Betsie Norris stated that Ohio ranks 50th in child welfare spending. The panel agreed that the emotional and financial strain that underpaid social workers experience should be addressed with higher wages and a focus teaching students interested in the field self care strategies.
Morris asked the panel several questions regarding the rising number of deaths from heroin overdoses. He posited that this could lead to a dramatic rise in the number of children in Ohio’s already strained foster care system. Professor Crampton disagreed saying that he hadn’t seen a rise in the number children in foster care since the news began reporting on the heroin epidemic. Gilbert also disagreed with Morris saying, “Heroin is a crisis because it has begun to affect suburbia. It has affected the African American community for years.”