Every child deserves a good education. For children in the dependency system, this need is an especially critical issue. Many children in the system experience educational challenges, all have been abused or neglected, and most are struggling with the emotional ramifications of a disrupted home environment. These children have been removed from their homes and their original schools, and subsequently moved to a number of different schools—which disrupts their learning, and frequently even their desire to learn. Less than 50% of foster youth in LA County graduate from high school and only 3% graduate from college. But these tragic outcomes are not inevitable.
CASA volunteers focus on the educational needs and circumstances of the children, from early childhood learners (ages 0-5), to elementary through high school students, to Transition Age Youth entering post-secondary schooling. These volunteers provide assessment, support, and advocacy services that address the students’ specific educational issues and needs, frequently holding the educational rights of the youth they serve. When necessary, CASAs coordinate with the local school districts to ensure that an Individualized Education Program is arranged for a child; find placement for the child in an alternative school; advocate that a parent’s educational rights be transferred to a guardian who has the capability to address the child’s educational struggles; and help the young person apply for college or vocational training.
As Casey’s story illustrates, CASA/LA’s educational advocacy ensures that highly trained volunteers offer consistent advocacy for and counseling to these vulnerable youth in order to move them toward high school graduation and ultimately, college or vocational training.