Education

The Alliance’s education program levels the playing field for children in foster care by ensuring that our clients receive educational support appropriate to their needs.

What do we do?

Nearly one half of foster children have learning disabilities or developmental delays. Many do not have access to the right education and early intervention services. Furthermore, the lives of foster children are often unstable and their education is interrupted when they move between homes. Although there are laws to protect the educational stability of foster youth, they are not widely known or implemented. Our education program represents children from birth to young adulthood who are in foster care and have special education needs. We also help enforce the educational rights of all children in foster care.

How do we do it?

Our education program takes a holistic approach aimed at addressing the injustices faced by children and young adults who are or have been in foster care. We provide direct education advocacy as well as trainings to empower caregivers and other providers to advocate for the children they serve.

A new step-by-step guide to improving education outcomes for children in foster care is available for the first time to California schools, focused on the most critical areas of need for foster youth. Known as the Foster Youth Education Toolkit, the guide is designed to assist school administrators in meeting the goals of Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).

LCFF marks the first time any state has included foster youth in its school accountability and funding system and focuses much needed attention on the need to improve academic successes of foster youth. The Foster Youth Education Toolkit is designed to assist school districts in meeting the promise of LCFF for our foster youth, ensuring they receive the full benefits of laws designed to protect them.

Because the most critical time for intervention is in the first few years of life, The Early Intervention Advocacy Center focuses specifically on overcoming the legal barriers to obtain appropriate developmental and early education assessments and services for children between birth and five years of age. If you are caring for a toddler five years or younger who you believe has undiagnosed developmental delays or who has diagnosed delays but is not receiving adequate services, click here.

Although children in foster care have a much higher incidence of disability (50%) than children in the general population (10 to 15%), they are less likely to access quality special education services. Foster children typically suffer from undiagnosed learning disabilities as well as trauma-induced emotional and behavioral challenges. Many times caregivers know their child is in need of services, but just cannot figure out how to navigate the special education bureaucracy. If you are caring for a child in foster care and want to learn more about how to receive special education services, please click here to learn more.

Children in foster care consistently experience some of the lowest educational outcomes of all youth. This is evident in the fact that only about 50% graduate from high school and a mere 3% graduate from college. The reasons for this are clear: research demonstrates that every time a child changes schools, they lose up to six months of their education and many foster youth may change schools 10 to 15 times. Further, many foster children are suffering from the emotional ramifications of the incidents that led to their placement in foster care, and this can lead to acting out and avoidance of school. California law allows for many special protections for foster children’s education. A growing field of research demonstrates that schools are increasingly pushing troubled and disabled youth into the criminal justice system rather than providing legally mandated education services. The Alliance is working to dismantle this school-to-prison pipeline by ensuring that youth receive services they need and the courts are educated about the issues that face children in foster care. To learn more about 1) a foster child’s right to stay in their current school, regardless of where they move, 2) a foster child’s right to earn partial high school credits, 3) the special graduation requirements for foster youth, 4) dismantling the school to prison pipeline and much more, click here.