New program sends teens in foster care, kinship homes and group homes to fun experiences

Beyond Your Imagination helps level the playing field for youth in care

(HAMILTON COUNTY – May 25, 2023) - We're thrilled to introduce Beyond Your Imagination, a new program offering tickets to special events to teenagers in our custody.

The idea for BYI started with Hamilton County Commissioner Stephanie Summerow Dumas, who wants to make sure youth in foster care get the same opportunities as other young people to experience new things. Thanks to the passage of our Children's Services levy, JFS is able to provide these opportunities to kids 14 and older at no cost.

“We want to make sure that youth are given the opportunity to attend a play, museum or experience a summer camp,” Commissioner Summerow Dumas said. “These are important life experiences and provide long-lasting memories that all young people deserve. If they can encounter more cultural and diverse activities, they will realize their future is endless.”

“Summer camps can be out of reach for so many of our foster youth,” said Commission President Alicia Reece. “This program levels the playing field by removing the barrier of cost for kids in our care.”

“Children in foster care face unique challenges,” said Commissioner Denise Driehaus. “Many have suffered from neglect and isolation.  The goal of this program is to provide positive experiences for these kids and expose them to joyful experiences that will stay with them for a lifetime.”

Teens in all placement types - foster care, kinship care, independent living, etc. - are eligible. The cost of tickets will be fully covered.

JFS Director Michael Patton was happy to support Commissioner Summerow Dumas’ idea and have our Children’s Services team bring it to fruition.

“It’s a great idea,” he said. “I can’t wait to start hearing what events the kids attend and how much they enjoy them. We appreciate our levy supporters who have made these kinds of things possible.”

“The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati is thrilled to partner with Beyond Your Imagination and the 75% of children in the program under the age of 14,” said Kim Kern, CEO of The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnat. “We recently welcomed guests from the program to our production of Disney’s Moana JR. and will continue to offer free tickets to these children and foster families so that all have the opportunity to experience the magic of live theatre and the inspiration and joy that goes along with it.”

JFS currently has about 1,800 kids in its legal care, more than 25 percent of whom are 14 or older. More than 400 are currently waiting for adoptive families.

The program is currently active with foster youth enrolling in area football camps, planning to take in a show at the Children’s Theater, and preparing for field trips to the Underground Freedom Center.

Leaders from JFS, The Board of County Commissioners and FC Cincinnati are pictured in TQL stadium following the press conference

Posted on 05/25/2023