Karamu Theater presents play April 19 at CWRU about foster care experience

The experiences of children in foster care will be told on the stage as Case Western Reserve University’s Schubert Center for Child Studies, in collaboration with Karamu Theater and the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services, present the play Sometimes Hope is Enough. The free, public performance of Michael Oatman’s play will take place Thursday, April 19, at 5:30 p.m. in Strosacker Auditorium. A discussion about foster care will follow the live performance.

The program aims to bring to light the situations of the more than 2,000 foster children in Cuyahoga County without permanent homes. Each year, roughly 200 youth turn 18 and “age out” of the foster care system, many with few connections or resources to begin living on their own.

Sometimes Hope is Enough is an original play that tells the journey of three siblings who come together to say their final goodbyes to their brother Thunder. After years of separation, the brothers push through the issues of their past to find the strength of family and discover that, with help, “sometimes hope is enough.” To write the play, Oatman talked with young people in foster care and those who recently “aged out” to learn about their circumstances and life experiences.

In addition to the performance, young people in Cuyahoga County’s foster care system will share their stories through the Moving Hearts Gallery and Digital Stories, which highlights the character, warmth and charm of children looking to make a special connection with a family.

After the play, a panel of experts—including county leadership, Case Western Reserve University faculty members, community practitioners and policy stakeholders—will discuss the research and policy implications of the realities portrayed in the play.

The panelists are: Gregory Ashe, executive director, Karamu House; David Crampton, associate professor, CWRU Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences; Jessica Horne, executive director, Cleveland Urban Minority Alcoholism Drug Abuse Outreach Project (UMADOP); Gregory Kapcar, legislative director, Public Children Services Association of Ohio (PCSAO); Jacqueline McCray, deputy director, Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services, Resources and Placement; and Melinda Sykes, director of children’s initiatives, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

“By bridging the arts, research, practice and policy, this event will create a powerful vehicle for the Cleveland community to dialogue about the challenges facing young people in foster care, and the need for parents, mentors, and the cultivation of other connections and support systems.” Schubert Center Policy Director Gabrielle Celeste said.

The event is sponsored and supported by an Adoption Opportunity Grant to Partners for Forever Families from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services, and the Case Western Reserve University’s Schubert Center for Child Studies and Mandel School for Applied Social Sciences.

For information, visit Schubert.case.edu/SometimesHopeIsEnough2012.aspx or call Kate Lodge at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services at 216.881.4343 or Gabriella Celeste at the Schubert Center at 216.368.5314.