National Center for Youth Law

Press Releases

Legislation Introduced to Improve Educational Outcomes for Foster Youth

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 27, 2015

Contacts:

Melissa San Miguel, 510-835-8098 x3025

Lewis Cohen, 510-835-8098 x3045

 Sacramento – The California legislature will consider legislation this session aimed at improving educational opportunities for tens of thousands of children in foster care. AB 854 authored by Dr. Shirley Weber, chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, will increase access to supplemental educational services provided through the state’s Foster Youth Services (FYS) Program. The bill is sponsored by FosterEd California, an initiative of the National Center for Youth Law.

Currently FYS uses a narrow eligibility definition based on placement, to exclude more than two thirds of California’s estimated 60,000 children in foster care. Dr. Weber’s legislation would adopt the more expansive definition of foster children used in the state’s groundbreaking Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) for education.

“As an educator I know students in foster care are more likely to achieve to their full potential when they are provided services designed to meet their particular needs.” said Dr. Weber, “It is imperative that the State close the foster youth achievement gap so that students in foster care can become independent, productive members of society.”

Students in foster care are one of the most vulnerable and academically at-risk student groups in California schools. A recent statewide study found that foster youth had the lowest graduation rate and highest dropout rate of any student group in the state.

“It simply makes no sense to distinguish between foster children in group homes and those living with a grandmother or other relative,” said Foster-Ed California Policy Manager Melissa San Miguel. “The data is clear. All of these students need additional help to succeed in school.”

The legislation will also enable FYS coordinators around the state, to improve collaboration among various state agencies in support of individual foster children. According to FosterEd California Director Jackie Thu-Huong Wong

FYS Coordinators can, support school districts implement the LCFF for foster youth by leveraging their knowledge of foster youth issues, their expertise in navigating the education and child welfare worlds, and their experience working with the various county and local stakeholders that are active in a foster youth’s life. “Having been the statewide coordinator for FYS I know the program needs to evolve so it can better support the districts in their new responsibilities for foster youth and the successful implementation of LCFF for students in foster care,” said Thu-Huong Wong. “Dr. Weber’s bill not only expands resources for foster youth but it ensures that the resources we already have are maximized for the benefit of these children.”

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About FosterEd

FosterEd, launched in 2009, is an initiative of the National Center for Youth Law. FosterEd improves these outcomes by ensuring foster children have educational champions supporting their success in school. Education specialists provide family case managers, 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.