E-News January 2015                                   View this email in your browser

The Director's Corner


As OFCA celebrates our 40th year of service to Ohio families we are excited about what the future holds. Ohio saw a lot of growth and many positive changes in 2014. Those changes, whether anticipated, worked towards, or happened due to unforeseen circumstances brought unique opportunities to OFCA and the families who care for vulnerable children.   

We look forward to OFCA's continued growth and outreach in educating, advocating and connecting families to what is happening at the state level in the development of laws and rules that have an impact on children, their families and resource families within Ohio.  Join us in this task.  There is much to do.  Here is looking towards a positive and productive 2015!

Awareness is the First Step

Every day in the United States, children and adolescents are victims of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. Despite the serious and long-term consequences for victims as well as their families, communities, and society, efforts to prevent, identify, and respond to these crimes are largely under supported, inefficient, uncoordinated, and unevaluated.

OFCA is committed to helping resource families access relevant, high quality and timely training opportunities. Join us at OFCA's annual family conference in Columbus, OH, June 19-20, 2015. Stay tuned for other educational opportunities.  
Coalition of Adoptive Families (COFAF)
Strengthening Family Ties...
    Interview with co-founder, Deborah Miller-Gnann
Ezirim family
This month’s parent group spotlight is on the Coalition of Adoptive Families (COFAF).  COFAF was formed to provide education, resources and support to adoptive parents and primary caregivers with the goal of increasing awareness around the challenges experienced by children who have been adopted; in particular where the child is of a different race and or culture than the adoptive family. 

Wendi: Deborah, the children you adopted as infants are now a young adult and a teenager.  What made you decide to adopt
Deborah:  As a single 35 year old professional woman, I knew I wanted to be mother. I was open to adoption and initially looked at domestic adoption.  I soon found out that as a single woman; it was pretty close to impossible to adopt babies or toddlers.  I started looking internationally, and discovered that many countries would not allow me to adopt because of my age and marital status. 

At the time, China was a county that was just beginning to allow foreigners to adopt their children. As a college student I had fallen in love with Asia. I didn’t know much going into it, but knew that you cannot raise a child from a different country or a different culture without feeling some affinity for that part of the world. The other thing that made China attractive to adopt from was at the time, their target group for foreign adoptions were adults 35-50 and they did not discriminate between singles and married couples.  I was overjoyed when I was able to adopt my first child, who was 9 months old at the time.  When she was 5 years old, I married and we decided to adopt another child.  My second daughter, who is also from China, was 16 months old when she was adopted. 

Wendi: Deborah, why did you and the other co-founders decide to start COFAF?
Deborah:  All the co-founders are adoptive parents of transracial or transcultural children. After adopting,
 to connect with other families and let our kids see other kids with families like theirs, we all decided at one point or another to join adoptive parent groups organized around our child’s country or region of origin.  When our children became teenagers we, like many  adoptive families, had a difficult time getting our children to attend culturally based events so we stopped going. 

We soon discovered that this was exactly the time when a number of underlying issues that may not have been clear when the child was younger started to show up.  We began to realize that because we had not come through the adoptive experienced ourselves, we had a hard time understanding what our children were going through as they became adults. The three of us decided we needed to start doing self-education and share our experience. COFAF was formed as a family centered adoption support group, to educate and help adoptive families, particularly those of transracial and transcultural adopted children

Wendi: What is the main focus of your group?
Our main focus is to “Strengthening Adoptive Family Ties.”  through education, resource identification, and support.  We learned the hard way that when you become an adoptive parent you are on your own and have to rely on your ability to educate yourself.  COFAF looked at post adoption education, resource and support needs of families that adopt and partnered with adviser Barbara VanSlyck to offer several facilitated topic based training and open discussion groups throughout the year. Previous trainings included a group discussion and training presented by the Adult Adoptee Support Group. 
Upcoming topics include: Triggers: The sparks that can cause adoption-related stress, Siblings: Does a child’s background or race affect the relationship? Early Trauma and its impact on children and attachmentCOFAF is currently in the process of rolling out a member’s only online clearinghouse to help adoptive parents find resources vetted and rated by other adoptive parents.  In the future COFAF also plans to support parents by offering Parent-to-Parent Peer Mentoring.  Similar to a buddy system, parents are matched with veteran parents who have already been through similar experiences. COFAF is also in the process of putting together an Ann Landers type publication to answer, from a parent’s perspective, common and not so common pre and post adoption questions.

How do parents attend classes and meetings?

Meeting:   Monthly
Location: The Columbus School of Chinese
                  1550 Old Henderson Rd., Suite N162, Columbus OH 43220
Contact :   Deborah Miller-Gnann, Fil Folden, Rebecca Nelson                  


Members of the Autonomous Non-profit Organization, Center for the Development of Innovative Social Services ‘Partnership for Every Child’ (P4EC) are in Columbus January 11-17, 2015 to learn about foster care in the United States 

Established in 2009 and building on the work of the Russian branch of the INGO EveryChild since 1994, P4EC has led the way in developing and replicating models of professional foster care which are successfully keeping children in their own families or preventing them from entering residential care unnecessarily. 

OFCA was asked to present on building, sustaining and connecting parent support groups. 

Organizations and families presenting are: 

Primary Parent Advocacy Group
The Village Network
Caring for Kids
The Russell family
Licking County 
The Merringer family
Ideas in Shared Parenting
              By Dot Erickson-Anderson
"The relationship a primary parent has with the foster parent has a significant impact on the successful outcome for the child in care. Many agencies have an “ice breaker” meeting where the primary parent interacts with the foster parent within the first few days of placement for the purpose of setting a respectful, nonjudgmental and supportive atmosphere for both families.
This meeting can be scary for the primary and foster family.  The foster family is generally comfortable with the agency staff that sets up this meeting.  Having a parent advocate/partner to assist the primary parent to feel comfortable is helpful.
The parent partner is an individual who is not a child welfare worker, has met with the primary family prior to the “ice breaker” meeting, and has experienced being serviced by child welfare themselves in the past.   When the primary parent feels accepted by this individual, who then walks with them through this meeting, a balance and positive tone can produce a better result.
If your agency does not have a program to develop parent partners for primary families, advocating for parent partners is one area where you can successfully impact a more successful outcome for the children who are served in your agency."

Public Children Services Association of Ohio (PCSAO) compiled the following bills introduced in the 130th General Assembly that  impact child welfare directly or indirectly. The 131st General Assembly convenes January 5, 2015.  Be informed. Be involved.

House Bills Senate Bills
HB 69 State Retirement Systems SB 3 State Retirement Systems
HB 86 Criminal Sentencing & Juvenile Justice Reform SB 153 Family Connections
HB 92 Adult Adoption SB 161 Federal Parent Locator
HB 153 Biennial Budget SB 162 Subsidized Guardianship Feasibility Study
HB 262 Safe Harbor for Exploited Children SB 163 Sibling Connections
HB 279 Budget Neutral Kinship Bill SB 203 Caylee’s Law
HB 281 Ohio Prevention First Act  
HB 299 Caylee’s Law  
HB 301 Missing or Deceased Child  
HB 392 Out of State Placement Standards  
HB 462 Prohibit Withholding Grades for Abused, Neglected Children  
HB 487 Mid-Biennium Review  

Your Voice Matters!

Take time to review Ohio Administrative Code Rules currently posted for pre-clearance.  Review and comment on all pending changes at

                            Rules Open for Comment Comments Open Until
Chapter 5101:2-42 Substitute Care.
Caseworker visits and contacts with children in substitute care.5101:2-42-65 01/20/2015
Chapter 5101:2-48 Adoption.
Agency adoption policy and recruitment plan.5101:2-48-05 02/05/2015
Adoption inquiry.5101:2-48-08 01/20/2015
Non-discrimination requirements for adoptive placements.5101:2-48-13 01/20/2015
Adoption preplacement and placement procedures.5101:2-48-16 02/05/2015
Assessor visits and contacts with children in adoptive homes prior to finalization.5101:2-48-17 01/20/2015
Adoptive family case record.5101:2-48-22 01/20/2015
Preservation of adoptive child case record.5101:2-48-23 01/20/2015
Agency adoption review procedures.5101:2-48-24 01/20/2015
Advocacy Training 

Quick Tips to Effective Advocacy for Yourself & Others

Be respectful

It is important to be respectful to other groups, individuals, and causes in your advocacy. You do not have to put one group down to raise the needs of a specific group. If you send the message that other causes and issues aren't important (or as important), you alienate potential allies to your cause.

Speak to strengths
When advocating for yourself or others, speak to their strengths.  It's true that social justice advocates are often advocating for problems to be fixed.  But it is vital to speak to the strengths of the human beings involved.  Why?  Because humans beings are deserving of dignity.  Second, people are psychologically more likely to support a cause where people are spoken of positively, as survivors, and as heroes.

Don't lose hope
You never know how the seeds you have planted with your message will grow.  Don't get discouraged.  Even when the change wanted isn't made or your bill doesn't pass, the time you spent educating still made a difference

Click here for more tips on Better Advocating 
Resources, Training & Articles

Rise - Primary Parent Magazine: The Color of Hope:  Race can affect whether parents get support to overcome

Ohio Governor, John Kasich Signs Adoption Bill

Foster Care: Older children, teen struggle to find a forever home

Wendy's' brings back Frosty Key Tag promotion to benefit foster-care families

NFPA Youth Scholarship

Athens County, Ohio:  Local Children Services nabs $87K state funding grant

Cuyahoga County, Ohio: $5M Ohio "Pay for Success" Targets Homelessness and Child Welfare

Ohio: New laws you need to know - or Not
Ohio Resource Families United for Advocacy, Education and Support

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