BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — People involved in the foster care system with different experiences and backgrounds from all over northwest Ohio used their chance Monday to speak to the governor's office about what has been working for them.
They also talked about what needs to be fixed to give children safe homes.
The Ohio Governor's Children's Foster Care Committee is going across the state in order to assess what needs to change in the foster care system.
Every corner of the state will have its own hearing and the findings will be reviewed by the commission. The hope is to create changes statewide to foster care and adoption.
The room was filled with experienced foster parents, children services professionals and, current and former foster children. One by one, people stepped up to the microphone.
"Growing up in foster care, I kind of feel like if I could describe it in one word, it would be forgotten," one former foster kid said.
One of the biggest things brought up was finding stability for foster kids by trying to find a way to make sure they aren't jumping from home to home if it's not necessary. Additionally, another major topic discussed was having mental health and other transitional resources for children aging out of the system.
"You can't say it's in the best interest of the child if you're not hearing from the people taking care of the children," a grandmother of a former foster child said.
A minor took the microphone and shared a story of addiction and abuse in her birth home. As she thanked her foster mother, tears filled her eyes.
She asked that in some situations family not be given precedence when it comes to adoption.
Others shared the basic things they wanted to have as a foster child.
"Helping with your mental health and taking your medications and doing extracurricular activities," a former foster kid said.
They also shared what they wish they knew as they aged out.
"I always thought when I aged out of foster care, all my problems would be over, I could go to college and describe who I wanted to be to other people, I wasn't Tayshana from foster care," another former foster care kid said.
That's why they listen to people like Tricia Cox and her husband who have fostered 58 children and adopted 11.
"In our journey, we have seen counties with different rules. We have a state license. Why is every county different?" Cox said.
For many in the room, the process is frustrating and they want better lives for the sometimes dozens of children who have been under their care.
"We talk to our kids, when they come into our home, they are our family. We take them from the day they walk in and we welcome them to our dinner table," Cox said.
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