On Thursday April 19, the Schubert Center collaborated with Karamu House, Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services, and the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences to host “Sometimes Hope Is Enough,” an original play by Michael Oatman, and a discussion by a panel of experts on youth in foster care. “Sometimes Hope Is Enough” follows the story of four siblings who have been in the foster care system, as they say goodbye to their oldest brother Thunder. The play, which is based on interviews with youth currently in and who have recently left the foster care system, was commissioned by Partners for Forever Families to provide a bridge between the arts, research, practice and policy and educate people about the issues of children leaving foster care. Each year in Cuyahoga County, 200 youth turn 18 and “age out” of the foster care system without being adopted, leaving many without essential support, resources and connections.
After the performance, community members were invited upstairs for refreshments and to view the Moving Hearts Gallery and Digital Stories, a collaboration between DCFS and Adoption Network Cleveland. The gallery showcases profiles of children currently seeking adoptive families.
Following the play, panelists Gregory Ashe of Karamu House, David Crampton of the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, LaJean Ray of Fatima Family Center, Gregory Kapcar of Public Children Services Association of Ohio, Lisa Peterka of the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services, and Melinda Sykes of the Office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine lead a discussion of the issues raised by the play. With their diverse backgrounds in the field, including one former foster child and one parent of a child adopted from foster care, the panelists were able to discuss the current policy and practice issues for children in danger of aging out of the foster care system. The panelists focused on the importance of finding a permanent, loving family for all children and the role parents continue to play in their children’s lives long after age 18.