National Center for Youth Law

NCYL in the news Press Releases

Foster Youth Education Initiative Continues To Show Strong Progress In Santa Cruz County

June 2, 2015

Casey Schutte (831) 466-5665

Foster youth receiving support from FosterEd: Santa Cruz County have seen significant improvements in their academic performance. That is among the preliminary findings of an independent evaluation released today. The evaluation also documents strong support from the adults who work with or are served by the project. The evaluators also lauded FosterEd: Santa Cruz County for its demonstrated flexibility in making program improvements based on changing circumstances.

FosterEd: Santa Cruz County is an initiative of the National Center for Youth Law; the Santa Cruz County Office of Education; Family and Children’s Services; Children’s Mental Health; CASA of Santa Cruz County; and the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Cruz, Juvenile Division. FosterEd focuses on improving the educational outcomes of children and youth in foster care by ensuring that every child served is supported by an educational champion and strengthened by an education team. The project launched in January 2013.

The evaluation report, authored by Dr. Jennifer Laird of the Research Triangle Institute (RTI), covers the first two years of FosterEd: Santa Cruz County’s implementation, during which the project served 228 foster youth. Notable among the achievements described in the report is a significant increase in attendance and grade point average (GPA) for youth served by FosterEd. Over 75 percent of youth who entered FosterEd’s program with poor attendance improved their attendance while being served by FosterEd, and the proportion of students earning a 3.0 or better improved 14 percentage points, from 25 percent to 39 percent.

In addition to preliminary indicators of academic progress for youth served, FosterEd: Santa Cruz County enjoys widespread support from adults who are served by the project and from those who collaborate with FosterEd as members of partner agencies. “Over 90 percent of adult team members who responded to the survey indicated that they would recommend FosterEd to other adults in the lives of foster youth,” according to the report.

The evaluation report also highlights the project’s flexibility in making improvements to better meet the needs of the children and adults served, noting that “[m]ajor, well thought-out adjustments to the model were introduced and refined.” Project Manager Casey Schutte agreed with that assessment, saying, “The big shift in our model during our second year of implementation wasn’t always easy, but it was a huge step forward and a critical element of the success we’ve enjoyed in improving educational outcomes for the youth we serve.”

As it continues in its third year of implementation, FosterEd: Santa Cruz County plans to build on its successes and maintain its focus on securing local public resources to fully sustain the project over the long term. According to the evaluation report, “[t]he strong collaborations and endorsement for the FosterEd project have recently been evident as partners have worked to identify public funding for the project in order for it to move from a largely philanthropic-supported pilot to a sustained program embedded in a public agency.” The report further notes that all three of the project’s case manager positions will be public agency employees by summer 2015. This development represents significant progress in sustainability efforts, but more work is needed to fully sustain the project.

The full evaluation report is available for download here.


About FosterEd

FosterEd, launched in 2009, is an initiative of the National Center for Youth Law. FosterEd improves educational outcomes by ensuring foster children have educational champions and education teams supporting their success in school. Education specialists provide social workers, teachers, school administrators, foster parents, biological parents, relative caregivers and others the skills and knowledge to identify educational strengths and ensure educational needs are met. The project ensures every foster child has an education case plan, and that these plans are implemented.


About the National Center for Youth Law

The National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) is a national non-profit organization that has been working for over four decades to improve the lives of at-risk children. Employing a range of strategies, NCYL works to ensure that low-income children have the resources, support, and opportunities they need for healthy and productive lives.