IOA staff braved the cold to support Starfish Family Homes. The Bourbonnais Park District’s Annual Turkey Trot 5k & 10k plus 2-mile walk was held on Saturday, November 10, with more than 200 participants who were looking to burn calories before Thanksgiving, and help Starfish Family Homes, IOA’s foster care support agency, in the process. More than 30 IOA staff braved the cold to walk or run. Aftercare Coordinator Meghan Kratovil heads up the race with the park district each year, and made sure our youth were involved. A PUMPKIN OF A DIFFERENT KIND 17 | NOV/DEC 2018 IOA Youth Participate in ALLIED LGBTQ Project Lurie Children’s Hospital and Northwestern University have partnered with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to learn more about LGBTQ youth in DCFS care. The study, ALLIED — Advancements Leading to LGBTQ Improved Experiences in DCFS — aims to understand the perceptions of adolescents in foster care with regard to their gender identity and sexual orientation. IOA was asked to participate, and Case Manager Matt Hedding-Hess oversaw six youth who gave one-on-one, in-person interviews with staff from Lurie as part of the project. Dr. Kirsten Simonton, MD, oversees this project, and described its importance: “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth are reported to be overrepresented in the foster care system, which studies suggest may be related to increased rates of family rejection or disapproval. Rejection related to sexual or gender identity, as well as involvement in child welfare, places these youth at greater risk for many negative outcomes, including mental health challenges, substance abuse, lower rates of family permanency, and a higher likelihood of multiple foster placements and homelessness. Understanding the physical and mental health risks in this population is critical for providers to inform best practices in the medical and child welfare settings. Emerging child welfare practices are emphasizing early identification, safety in the foster care setting, and a focus on permanency. Ongoing work is needed to ensure appropriate medical and mental health care, elimination of discriminatory practices, and supports for families of origin to move toward acceptance.” TURKEY TROT FOR STARFISH Indian Oaks Academy held their annual Halloween pumpkin decorating contest and it was a success! The Minions, Captain Jack Sparrow, and a few classic spooky Halloween inspired pumpkins were in the running.
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