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Educational Services Division

Foster Youth Services (FYS)

Mission

The mission of the SCCOE’s Foster Youth Services Program (FYS) is to provide advocacy, guidance and community organization around the issues of school enrollment and success for students in foster care, especially as they relate to California Assembly Bill 490. FYS aims for the development of a community of Local Educational Agencies and county-wide service and placing partners collaboratively ensuring that the timely and appropriate academic and supportive measures are enacted for foster youth.

Vision

Enabling foster youth to flourish towards graduation, higher education and a successful life.

Articles About Foster Youth Services (FYS)

Project to Improve Educational Outcomes of Foster Youth Receives National Recognition

Goals

The goals of the Santa Cruz County Office of Education Foster Youth Services Program are multifaceted. A memorandum of understanding between all vested partners serving students in foster care is desired as a foundational piece to allow for an informed and proactive platform from which all other goals may grow. These other goals include having an established and trained contact at every school site in Santa Cruz County, providing tutoring to those not covered by other agencies, establishing a protocol and information system to accurately monitor the success of academic enrollment and performance, and to create accessible links between the community, students, care givers, schools and agencies.

About FYS

The SCCOE FYS program was created with limited funding in 1999 to serve students in foster care attending SCCOE Alternative Education school sites. The initiative and financial support from the California Department of Education (CDE) came both from the dismal statistics related to academic outcomes for students in foster care and the success of several counties and school districts which had created programs years earlier that were showing significant improvements. In 2004, AB 490 was signed into law, creating an outline and structure for FYS and mandating certain provisions such as the requirement to have a school district liaison and enrolling students in foster care immediately, regardless of paperwork outstanding. This bill increased the need for training and advocacy in the school systems. In 2007 the CDE doubled our funding and requested FYS to incorporate the entire county’s population of students in foster care. This was a ten-fold increase in both partners and number of foster youth. This upsurge in service and collaboration is both challenging and exciting. The final result will be a better framework with expanded reach, helping students in foster care more thoroughly as they transition between schools, both alternative and comprehensive, non-public, district or administered by the county.

About SCCOE FYS Local Advisory Board

Currently there are more than 40 members of the SCCOE FYS Local Advisory Board. Together they represent Santa Cruz County Human Services Department’s Family and Children’s Services, Santa Cruz County Juvenile Probation Department, CASA of Santa Cruz, Cabrillo College, The University of California at Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz County Children’s Mental Health, Independent Living Program, in addition to every group home and school district in the county. There are also relative caregivers and foster family homes, as well as several members from the Santa Cruz County Office of Education representing Alternative Education, McKinney-Vento legislation and Students in Transition, and of course Foster Youth.

The Board meets approximately once a month to discuss priorities, directions and actions to take with regard to education and students in foster care. Anyone is welcome to attend, suggest meeting topics or request to be on the email list (link to Michael’s email) for notifications and minutes.

Guiding Principles of SCCOE FYS

In preparation for the expanded grant application for 2007, the SCCOE FYS Local Advisory Board created four touch points to remember when designing strategies or interventions to assist students in foster care:

1) First and foremost is the principle of acting in a manner that always keeps the foster youth’s best interest in the forefront of all decisions. This principle is further informed by keeping abreast of best practices as researched, reported and trained in universities, professional publications, county and government agencies, non-profit groups and foundations as well as other professionals specializing in foster care.

2) The second principle is that early intervention is crucial in minimizing academic, social and emotional setbacks as foster youth age. Early intervention means both at the earliest age possible as well as at the onset of placement regardless of age.

3) Teaching intra- and inter-personal skills such as self-advocacy, self-regulation, stress reduction, and tools for coping with loss and change while building self-esteem will greatly increase the likelihood of success for foster youth, both while in foster care or attending school as well as in their life after foster care.

4) Effective, transparent and cooperative communication between all parties involved with a foster youth is crucial in serving that youth in a timely, thoughtful and competent manner. The spirit of collaboration and a multi-disciplined team is highly valued.

SCCOE's Superintendent's Vision and Goals

Foster Youth Services is in alignment with the SCCOE's Superintendent's Vision and Goals for 2007-2010. Like SIT, FYS provides "countywide support to all districts and schools in their efforts to provide a rigorous, standards-based education for all students, especially English learners and economically disadvantaged students" (Goal 2.1). We do this by serving as an informational hub (Goal 2.3) for the many liaisons, counselors, principals, placing and partner agencies, who deal directly with students who attend school and are in foster care. In addition, the focus on an underserved population aligns with expanding support services to this group (Goal 3.4). In addition, FYS supports students in foster care by providing them with services such as tutoring, advocacy, guidance and referrals. Finally, FYS collaborates with local Junior Colleges and Universities in an effort to increase Foster Youth exposure and connections to these entities (Goal 4.3).

FYS Resources and Links

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Santa Cruz County Office of Education  |  400 Encinal Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060  |  831.466.5600  |  Fax: 831.466.5607
The Santa Cruz County Office of Education provides quality educational programs and services to a diverse community.