New programs launched to help California foster youth succeed in school

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Two California education agencies have turned their attention to raising the profile and improving services for the estimated 65,000 California foster youth.

The California School Boards Association has shared with its members what it calls “timely resources” to help school districts better understand the foster youth they serve.

Instability, including frequent changing of schools, is a significant challenge for foster youth. Consequently, student achievement often suffers.

The #Action4FosterYouth campaign, which is supported by a grant from the Stuart Foundation, helps education leaders and community members better understand the scope of the challenge, and work toward a more successful scholastic experience and better life outcomes for foster youth.

“Students in foster care face circumstances that are far more challenging than those faced by many of their peers. Such circumstances often make learning difficult for foster students and their futures uncertain,” said CSBA President Chris Ungar. “An important first step to changing foster youth outcomes is learning about their challenges.”

Among the resources shared is the timely video above called “Not Invisible.”

The Los Angeles Community College District, the largest of its kind in the nation, has also been paying attention to the issue of emancipated foster youth, those who are over 18. It passed a resolution at its May 11 board meeting that would identify and assist former foster youth. The Cooperating Agencies Foster Youth Educational Support (CAFYES) Program was established through the enactment of Senate Bill 1023 (2014). LACCD estimates that there at least 2,500 former foster youth in their system.

“For former foster youth to successfully continue their education, they face the challenge of housing, health care and other basic services,” said LACCD Trustee Sydney Kamlager, who introduced the resolution. “We must do all we can to help them succeed.”

She will convene a meeting of representatives from each of LACCD’s nine campuses to discuss services for the former foster youth will be held on May 26. She recently hosted a roundtable with some emancipated foster youth and actor Delroy Lindo. Watch the video of that roundtable here.

“We applaud CSBA and LACCD for identifying the issue of foster youth. Understanding and meeting their unique needs to help them improve chances of finishing their education bodes well for the future of California,” said Susan Lovenburg of CA Fwd, which is working with the California School Boards Association to build the capacity of local school districts and county offices of education to transform educational outcomes.

May is National Foster Care Month.


Ed Coghlan

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