There are approximately 100,000 children in California living in foster care. Removed from their families because they have experienced abuse or neglect, the State becomes their guardian and has a unique legal obligation to ensure their well-being. Yet their educational outcomes are heartbreakingly poor. Recent studies have found that children living in foster care:
- Have significantly higher rates of absenteeism and disciplinary referrals than their peers
- 75% perform below grade level
- 83% are held back by third grade
- 50% obtain a high school diploma/GED
- Fewer than 3% will attend a four year college
Improving the educational outcomes of foster children requires increased collaboration between, and improved policies and practices within, state and local child welfare, judicial and education agencies.
1) Child welfare agencies: identification of educational strengths and needs; participation in education teams; case plans that include an expanded education section; improved communication of education plans and education progress to judges and other stakeholders.
2) Judicial agencies: Increased focus on education during dependency proceedings and appointment of educational champions.
3) Education agencies: Identification of district foster youth education liaisons; identification of school-site foster youth education liaisons; identification of educational strengths and needs; facilitation of education team meetings.
PCOE Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program (FYSCP) is committed to provide needed resources and technical assistance to school districts. With a holistic, collaborative, and multi-disciplinary approach, FYSCP assists students in reaching their maximum educational and vocational potential and well-being. The PCOE FYSCP has adopted the FosterEd approach to best serve schools, districts and youth living in foster care.
What it FosterEd? PCOE partners with local education, child welfare and judicial agencies, to implement a continuous cycle of data-driven interventions:
1) Identification and support of an educational champion
2) Development and monitoring of education team: Education liaisons create and monitor education teams for child in foster care
3) Individualized educational goals, based on strengths and needs. The student's educational strengths and needs are identified using a research-based tool and used to develop education goals.
SERVICES WE PROVIDE
Using a Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS) approach, the PCOE FYSCP provides educational case management to all youth in care. The MTSS approach uses data to prioritize supports and services to youth in care. Working closely with school district foster youth liaisons, students identified as having a need for educational supports are provided access to, academic, social/emotional, transition, vocational and counseling supports and interventions. The level of need drives the level of intensity of services for youth. To provide the best supports possible the PCOE FYSCP engages two advisory groups. The Systems Management Advocacy Resource Team (SMART) consists of, Director of Health and Human Services, Superior Court Judge, Chief of Probation, PCOE Superintendent of Schools, Director of Mental Health America, Director of Children's System of Care and Superintendent of Western Placer Unified School District. PCOE FYSCP facilitates quarterly meetings to include, school district foster youth district liaisons, probation, Children's System of Care, Independent Living Program, Sierra College, Mental Health America, CASA, Koinonia Group Homes and KidzCount. Both groups act as advisory and oversight for implementation and outcomes for the FYSCP.