Oakland County Officials to Learn First Hand Experiences of Youth in the Foster Care System at Annual KidSpeak Event

Tonight, from 6-8 p.m. in the Oakland County Board of Commissioners’ Auditorium, 1200 North Telegraph Road in Pontiac, Oakland County Commissioner Janet Jackson, former Oakland County Commissioner and current Michigan State Representative Jim Runestad, including former Oakland County Commissioner Mattie McKinney Hatchett will co-host this event and will join with event host the Honorable L. Brooks Patterson to welcome back the annual KidSpeak Event in Oakland County.  Michigan State Senator Dave Robertson is also co-hosting this effort.

This event will give voice to three-dozen high school and college age students from Oakland County and the surrounding counties. They will provide testimony about their experiences, concerns and successes as they navigate their movement into adulthood. According to the press release, over 13,500 Michigan children are a part of the foster care system of which 40 percent are from the counties of Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne. An average of 12 children from the Tri-County Area enter into the system on a daily basis. The event is sponsored by the Mitsi and Albert Scaglione of Park West Foundation, Voices for Michigan’s Children; Foster Care Alumni of America-Michigan Chapter; Michigan Youth Opportunity Initiative; and the Oakland County Board of Commissioners.

The purpose of the evening is to give decision makers the opportunity to learn from the youth impacted by the foster care system, so that their decisions can lead to stronger, more efficient and more effective policy and practice. They will learn more about how their policy priorities can better support successful programs that create clearer pathways to success for young people currently served by the foster care system and those who have aged out of the system.

KidSpeak is a signature event of the Voices for Michigan’s Children. Since 1993, Michigan’s Children has served as a statewide independent and non-partisan voice for children and has focused on reducing disparities in child outcomes from cradle to career. By engaging public officials, business and community leaders and advocacy partners to improve public policies and programs that give all children the opportunity to thrive.

Foster Care Alumni of America- Michigan Chapter works to connect the alumni community to transform policy and proactive, ensuring opportunity for people in and from foster care.

Michigan State Representative Jim Runestad has been a foster parent for many years and has advocated on behalf of foster parents and children as private citizen and elected official. He spearheaded the KidSpeak event in Oakland County as a former Commissioner.

Commissioner Janet Jackson has been actively involved in efforts promoting quality of life and safety awareness for area youth and has been committed to joining former Commissioners Jim Runestad and Mattie McKinney Hatchett in continuing the KidSpeak event in Oakland County.

Joining Oakland County’s Elected Officials in this effort are Michele Corey, Vice President for Programs InterimPresident and CEO of Michigan’s Children. Robert E. Thomas, President of Foster Care Alumni of America- Michigan Chapter; Saba Gebrai, Program Director of Park West Foundation’s Blue Babies, Director; and Robin Lott, Executive Director of Michigan Education Trust (MET) and Michigan Education Savings Program (MESP), and Matt Gillard, President and CEO for the Voices for Michigan’s Children.

Oakland County Commissioner John A. Scott will participate as part of the event’s listening panel joining Commissioner Janet Jackson, former Commissioner Mattie McKinney Hatchett and former Commissioner, the Honorable State Representative Jim Runestad.

Listening Panelists Confirmed for KidSpeak:

Casey Anbender, Senior Analyst, Child Welfare Services, State Court Administrative Office

Brittany Bartkowiak, Student Ambassador, Fostering Success Michigan

Sheila Brown

Hon. Wendell Byrd, District 3, Michigan House of Representatives

Monica Chrzaszcz, U.S. Representative Sander Levin

Patricia Chunn, Consultant, Oakland Schools

Hon. Kathy Crawford, District 38, Michigan House of Representatives

Michelle Fecteau, NASBE Delegate, State Board of Education

Hon. Erika Geiss, District 12, Michigan House of Representatives

Hon. Joseph Graves, District 51, Michigan House of Representatives

Mattie McKinney Hatchett, Former Oakland County Commissioner

Cam Hosner, Chief Executive Officer / President, Judson Center

Kelly Howard, Director, Child Welfare Services, State Court Administrative Office

Kevin Hrit, U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell

Susan Hull, Director, Children’s Services Administration, Oakland County Department of Human Services

Hon. Janet Jackson, Commissioner, Oakland County Board of Commissioners

Janet Kaley, Health, Education and Youth Permanency, Michigan Department of Human Services

Hon. Marty Knollenberg, District 13, Michigan Senate

Hon. Mike Kowall, District 15, Michigan Senate

Charles Ludwig, CARE House, Child Abuse and Neglect Council of Oakland County

Barb McCallahan, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow

George Miller, Director, Oakland County Department of Health and Human Services

Alicia Morris, Co-Founder, Halo Elite

Hon. David Robertson, District 26, Michigan Senate

Hon. Jim Runestad, District 14, Michigan House of Representatives

Hon. John Scott, Commissioner, Oakland County Board of Commissioners

Jason Smith, Youth Justice Policy Consultant, Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency

Bob Steeh, Director of Community Education, Novi Community School District

Ronnie Stephenson, State Representative Brandt Iden

Hon. Jodi Debbrecht Switalski, Judge, 51st District Court

Hon. Shelley Goodman Taub, Commissioner, Oakland County Board of Commissioners

Hon. Jim Tedder, District 43, Michigan House of Representatives

Michael Williams, Orchards Children’s Services

Jennifer Wrayno, Business Services 5 Director, Michigan Department of Human Services

About Sarah Hovis

Freelance wordsmith, arts appreciator, grammar geek, sports spectator, stationery snob, and world traveler, Sarah charts her own course as the owner of saliho creative. She uses her creative mind and engaging dialogue to fearlessly bring the written word to life in print and online… all while keeping a watchful eye out for the next literary adventure. You can reach her at sarah@rochestermedia.com.

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