We Can Save Foster Children Only by Educating Them...


When President Obama recognized May 2015 as National Foster Care Month, his Proclamation honored "those who dedicate themselves to making a difference." As the month draws to a close, those of us working in the foster care trenches need to take a hard look at where we are still failing these children.
Since 1997, the federal government has held states accountable for the "well-being" of children in their care. While the definition of "well-being" has evolved over time, as leader of an organization that has worked with thousands of foster children, it is clear to me that education is the key - and that education is where we should focus our energies.
Education of children in child welfare is a difficult challenge, but it is one we must address. ACS Commissioner Gladys Carrion has shown great leadership in urging the child welfare community to raise the bar and focus more specifically on "well-being."
Education is the one attribute that can overcome all other challenges. There are many examples of individuals who have overcome physical or mental health challenges - if they are well-educated. Likewise, education makes it far more likely that an individual, regardless of his childhood circumstances, will be able to earn a living, support a family and lead a productive life.
But without an adequate education, young people start out their lives in a deep hole. High school graduates earn an average of $260,000 more over their lives than those who don't graduate. College graduates earn an average of $830,000 more. The broader social costs are even greater: unplanned pregnancies, drug abuse, incarceration among disconnected youth, and long-term dependence on government-funded services for food, healthcare and housing.
Until we find ways to close the education gap for children in the child welfare system, we will never truly be able to ensure their well-being. Unfortunately, it will not be easy.

The New York Foundling launched Haven Academy, a K-5 charter school in one of the nation's most disadvantaged communities, seven years ago. With two-thirds of the students in the child welfare system and one-third from the school's neighborhood, we've surrounded them with extensive social services. Even in this environment, though, issues persist.
When compared to children in child welfare across the city, the child welfare students at Haven are doing very well, with significant improvements in their test scores. Clearly, we are making progress. However, when compared to children at Haven from the general community, who are making greater strides, the child welfare students continue to lag behind, demonstrating how complex this educational challenge remains.

Older children pose additional challenges. When they reach age 21, hundreds of these young people in New York City alone "age out" of the foster care system each year. Only 20 percent enroll in college and of those who do enroll, only 3 percent earn degrees. Lacking an adequate education, a family support system and the life skills most of us take for granted, one in four is incarcerated within two years and one in five becomes homeless.
We know that certain tactics work. We know that early education, like the pre-K programs undertaken by Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio, gets results. But we need to go further, expanding Head Start and Early Head Start programs and making them more available in communities with a high prevalence of at risk children.
We know that children in foster care require teachers with special training. Many of these children have been subjected to trauma or abuse, the neurological and psychological consequences of which are well-documented. They may respond unpredictably to seemingly normal gestures. Their behavior in the classroom may change if they've had a parental visit over the weekend. These issues go beyond what the typical teacher can deal with in a typical classroom.
For older youth - those who are closer to "aging out" - we have recently had great success with a new program to provide individual tutoring. In its first year, four times as many foster kids graduated high school and were accepted to four year colleges than we'd seen in any year previously. For those who are not college bound, we are poised to launch, in partnership with other organizations, an alternative program teaching the kind of advanced technology skills that will lead to good middle class jobs.
Clearly, these are only some of the potential answers. We need to continue to be innovative and aggressive. We are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to help these children while they are in our care. If we fail to educate them adequately during the time they are in our care, many of them will ultimately be lost - and we will end up spending millions more to deal with issues they present as adults.

The 3rd Annual Celebration of Scholars

The Alabama ILP DREAM Council Ambassadors

will host

The 3rd Annual Celebration of Scholars


Saturday, May 16th

9 am to 1 pm

at the

Westin Hotel

6800 Governors West NW

Huntsville, Alabama 35806

If you have any questions or need any additional information, please contact Sandra Williams at 256-427-6303.  We look forward to seeing you on Saturday.



Know How - Official Trailer - Foster Care Film

A film written and acted by foster care youth ripped from the stories of their lives. Five youth's worlds interweave as they confront loss, heartbreak, and come of age in this tale about transience and perseverance. Addie struggles to graduate from high school while her best friend Marie loses her grandmother. Megan copes with being taken from her abusive family and faces the harsh reality of living in a residential treatment center. All the while Eva works to be mother to her sister while their father falls deeper into a crack addiction. Finally, there's Austin who's living on the street with his brother; barely able to feed himself. All of them must decide to survive or else fall victim to a broken system


Camp Life I(17-20 yrs.) is 3 day experience for youth ages 17-20 to learn ILP skills, grow and mature mentally and build supportive relationships all while having fun! It’s not your traditional camp. This camp is centered around youth in care and their success after care. To register your youth CLICK HERE .

Falling Through the Cracks: My Struggle to Survive as a Homeless Youth

The sun has only barely begun to peek over the horizon but the faint brightness of the early morning sunrise stirs me in my sleep. I start to wake and for a brief moment I feel almost normal -- perhaps even happy -- suspended in a blissful state of ignorance as the sleep begins to leave my body and my mind wakes and adjusts to its surroundings. To read the full story by   CLICK HERE.

This Group Is Fulfilling More Than Just The Basic Needs Of LA's Homeless Youth

Demonque Williams exited the foster care system at age 18 in 2010 with nowhere to go and no one to turn to. Now 22, he still does not have a stable home. On a good day, he sleeps in a shelter or uses a hotel voucher. Most nights he sleeps on the street.

“I need emotional help,” Williams said, sitting on the couch at Sanctuary of Hope, a program for homeless youth in South L.A. “I need somebody to talk to. I need to keep mentally strong out there. I need encouragement.” To read the full story CLICK HERE.

Register for Camp Life I (17-20 yrs.)

Camp Life I(17-20 yrs.) is a 3 day experience for youth ages 17-20 to learn ILP skills, grow and mature mentally and build supportive relationships all while having fun! It’s not your traditional camp. This camp is centered around youth in care and their success after care. To register for Camp Life I (17-20 yrs.) follow this link http://www.childrensaid.org/ilp/camplife.html .

Stop and Be a Child Again

Stop for just a minute. Take in what's around you. Trust me, it's worth it.

We adults take everything so seriously. Our days consist of deadlines, budgets and presentations. We never feel finished for the day and we regret leaving a mound of work for tomorrow. We're constantly feeling overwhelmed and we hardly smile. To read more of this story CLICK HERE.

Angel Enters Foster Care Through Probation's Door

"Like a picture in a magazine."

That's how Angel's mother Leah wanted their small townhouse in Pacifica, California, to look. Picture perfect.

Leah says that she got the idea of giving her 12-year-old daughter chores after Angel's school sent home fliers describing the importance of teaching children how to "become successful adults."

When her adolescent daughter failed to manage perfection -- when Angel missed a task in her 16-point list of chores that ranged from cleaning the cat's litter box to folding plastic grocery bags exactly four times over -- Leah's mood grew dark.  To read more about this story on Huffington Post CLICK HERE.

Birmingham Public Library to Host Two Money Smart Week Events, April 20 and 21

Money Smart Week 2015 offers free events throughout Alabama focused on financial education for all ages and walks of life. The Birmingham Public Library will host two events: "How to Use Mergent and Morningstar Databases for Business and Investing Research" and "How to Get Started with Investing."

How to Use Mergent and Morningstar Databases for Business and Investing Research" is scheduled for April 20, 2015, at 2:30 p.m. in the Regional Library Computer Center/Central Library/Linn-Henley building/4th floor. This program will provide novice and experience investors information on how to select and monitor their investments using Mergent and Morningstar. It will also cover how to research a company before purchasing their stock.

"How to Get Started with Investing" is scheduled for April 21, 2015, at 1:00 p.m. in the Regional Library Computer Center/Central Library/Linn-Henley building/4th floor. Dr. Stephanie Yates, Director of UAB’s Institute of Financial Literacy, will describe the fundamental principle of investment and how a better understanding of these principles can lead to investment success.

When considering your personal financial goals, the Birmingham Public Library is a good place to go for free and authoritative resources on all aspects of personal finance. Stop by to check out some of the amazing resources we have to offer! 

For more information visit: http://bplolinenews.blogspot.com/2015/04/birmingham-public-library-to-host-two.html 
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