The Fostering Change for Children Voice
Fall 2014
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Children's Corps Alumni Helping Kids on the Front Lines

"During, and after, my Children's Corps placement, I worked with youth who were in Passages Academy, an alternative learning center for adjudicated youth. As noted by CityLimits adjudicated youth struggle with school reentry. Principals have discretion whether or not to accept credits, even if the credits were accrued from DOE schools. More often than not, credits are rejected, and schools try to prevent students from re-enrolling even if they retain the right of return (meaning they have only been discharged from their home school for 12 months or less) 

At the end of this summer, I assisted a family in choosing a new school placement. The girl I was working with struggled at her old school, and they said they would not admit her (even though legally, they had to). Her adoptive mom is incredibly smart and functionally strong - she is a published author and a deacon at her church.

When we got to the enrollment site for her borough, there were many questions about where the child had been. She had previously been reported missing and there was a hold from her old school and was still listed on the Passages Academy (D79) roster. Mom and student were having a difficult time navigating the DOE process. I was able to help advocate for an appropriate school placement. The staff member relayed that she had previously heard very negative things about Passages Academy. I was grateful for getting to work with her and show her that children leaving Passages still need school placements."
-Ilena Robbins, CC '11


Message from our CEO


One of the biggest challenges in education is the partnership between schools and parents/guardians. It is shown that when parents are involved in their children's education, the child is more likely to meet their educational goals. Our organizational focus has always been on the child having the strongest possible permanent family. We truly believe education is critical to a child's success in life. In our newsletter today, you will read a lot about education. As an organization we want to do all that we can to support children affected by the child welfare system in reaching all of their goals in life, especially in education. We strongly believe this needs to be done in the context of looking at strengthening families and their communities, not just education in a box by itself. Please help us to support children, by helping us strengthen their families, whether foster, birth or adoptive. And in doing so, helping them to reach all of their educational goals as well. 
      -Barry Chaffkin

Recent Education News for Youth in Care
Our organization is not alone in our rapt attention to this deserving issue. Over the past few months, the education of youth in care has been the topic of discussion for legislators, journalists and researchers alike. 

The New York City Council passed a bill requiring agencies to track independent living outcomes of youth who age out of care with no permanent resource adult in their lives; many of these outcomes are related to education. Various studies indicate that somewhere between one percent and 11% of former foster youth graduate from college. 

On the federal front, in a recent amendment to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the U.S. Congress recognized the need for agencies and workers to be involved with the education of youth in foster care and have access to their records by allowing agencies access to student records without a release. 

For students remanded to residential treatment centers (RTCs), the Legal Center recently published a study suggests that attending school off-site was generally in the best interest of the child. They also acknowledged that this is not always possible. We always advocate for the lowest level of restrictive care possible. We are hopeful that our partner agencies will brainstorm and seek out solutions that might enable youth placed in RTCs with low risk factors to attend public schools off-site. 

Finally, a new report from the Community Service Society of New York highlighted how a lack of housing during school breaks factors into the low rate of foster care alumni who successfully earn a college degree. Many states have adopted programs aimed at helping foster care alumni succeed at college, addressing this housing issue as well as several of the other risk factors described in the CSSNY study. 
Resources For Helping Youth Succeed in Education:

For assistance with children attending schools in New York City, this portal site has information for homeless youth, youth struggling with substance abuse, youth with incarcerated parents and much more. 

This info sheet from Voices for Adoption is full of direct links to nationally available financial aid programs, including grants, scholarships, loans and internships specifically aimed at helping former foster youth succeed in higher education.
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