Back-to-school is an exciting time for students, bringing with it the anticipation of seeing friends again after the summer break, a new classroom, new teacher, and new lessons that build on an educational foundation. However, for children in foster care who often change schools multiple times, there is little excitement to be had when you don’t know if you’ll be in the same school next week, next month, next year. It is estimated that foster children move schools at least once or twice a year, and by the time they age out of the system, over one third will have changed schools five or more times. When teens in foster care change schools, sometimes their records and credits never get transferred, so they end up taking the same classes over and over again. The frustration these teens experience likely contributes to a disheartening statistic: only half of young people in foster care complete high school by age 18.
With each school move, a foster child has to start all over: make friends, navigate classroom dynamics, and adjust to a new environment. These moves result in setbacks: children in foster care are estimated to lose 4 to 6 months of academic progress with each move, causing them to fall behind and, later, decreasing the chances they will graduate from high school, a predictor of later success in life.
Thankfully, there are everyday citizens in our community who are helping to keep foster children in the same school longer and secure the educational resources the children need to advance academically. CASA volunteers, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, from CASA of Kings County advocate on behalf of a foster child or sibling group in foster care. The volunteers interact with the adults in the child’s life – including teachers, school counselors, foster parents, and professionals working on the child’s case – and make recommendations to Juvenile Court judges that are in the child’s best interests.
This new school year, we at CASA of Kings County ask that caring, local residents come forward and become CASA volunteers to help a foster child have a stable, enriching academic experience, help them reach their potential, and give them the attention they need and the support they deserve.
Interim Executive Director
CASA of Kings County