Family-to-Family event shines light on needs of youth in foster care
When life doesn’t go as planned, the Heights Family to Family Collaborative is there to help. Founded in 2006, it is one of 14 partnerships funded by Cuyahoga County to provide families emergency assistance, prevent family disruption, and minimize family involvement with child protective services. The Heights Collaborative, housed at the Centers for Families and Children at 1941 South Taylor Road in Cleveland Heights, mobilizes community-based resources to support families where they live. It works with families who reside in Cleveland Heights, University Heights, Beachwood, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike, Shaker Heights, Woodmere Village and the University Circle area.
The collaborative’s staff helps people access resources by enrolling them in the Ohio Benefit Bank, and providing information and referrals for emergency food, rent and utility assistance, transportation, child care, parenting support, respite care, job training and education, and mental health services. It advocates for families as they navigate the child welfare system, and provides special programs to connect and encourage foster and adoptive parents. It also assists emancipated minors and young adults who live on their own.
The Heights Collaborative is an established Safe Zone for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgendered and Questioning youth and young adults, thanks to training provided by the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland.
The collaborative is sponsoring a free public event this month. May is National Foster Care Month, an annual campaign to raise awareness of the year-round needs of American children and youths who spend parts of their childhood away from their birth families. The community is invited to learn more about the reality of foster care and ways to support young people in this system, by spending the evening of May 19, beginning at 6:30, at the Heights Library (2345 Lee Road) with LaTasha C. Watts, author of I’m Not Broken, Just a Little Twisted.
Watts will read from her newest book, Aging Out of My Mind, and will discuss her childhood and transition to adulthood after aging out of foster care at 18. By the age of 23, this determined young woman had experienced homelessness, single parenthood and cancer. Her inspiring memoir starkly illustrates the difficulties children face when they lack a permanent family.
To reserve a seat or for more information on all the services the collaborative provides, contact the Heights Family to Family Collaborative at 216-320-9520, ext. 2.
Arlene Castañeda, family information resource specialist for the Heights Family to Family Collaborative, has a worked for more than 32 years years in office administration and planning.