EDUCATIONAL ADVOCACY: WHY IT'S IMPORTANT
Children in foster care, relative to their peers, are less likely to graduate on time and less likely to graduate at all. As a group, they generally score lower on standardized tests. Multiple movements in foster care often result in multiple school changes as well, impeding their ability to achieve success in school. For more information on the statistics and studies regarding children in foster care and opportunities to change the tide, consider reading this brochure, produced by the National Working Group on Foster Care and Education.
Youth involved in the juvenile justice system also face grim statistics in terms of school success. As stated in the 2014 report, "Core Principles for Reducing Recidivism and Improving Other Outcomes for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System," at page 30,
Youth in the juvenile justice system are significantly more likely than their non-delinquent peers to be suspended or expelled, have academic skills well below their grade level, possess a learning or developmental disability, and drop out of school. Enrollment in school and academic achievement is associated with lower rates of reoffending and better outcomes into adulthood, and degree attainment is strongly associated with future earning potential.
educational advocacy within LCYC
LCYC provides educational advocacy to the children we represent in child welfare and juvenile offender matters, protecting their rights to an education, striving to expand opportunities and school engagement while simultaneously decreasing the risks of homelessness and recidivism in the future.
LCYC's staff is experienced in advocating for children involved in special education, in collaborating with schools proactively on education and behavioral plans, and in responding to school discipline matters such as a suspension or expulsion. LCYC is also familiar with policies and laws in place impacting LGBTQ youth.
LCYC recognizes that when a child is removed from her home by court order, maintaining the child in her home school can provide the child a sense of stability otherwise absent in her life. Multiple school movements also contribute to the poor statics of educational success for children in foster care. LCYC often advocates in and out of court, based on the stated interests of the children, for court orders ensuring and supporting a child's continued enrollment in his or her neighborhood school.
LCYC's advocacy on placement also increases stability and opportunities for success in school. If an LCYC attorney is appointed to represent a child at the first child welfare court hearing, the child is more likely to reside with parents, relatives or other known adults in the community throughout the duration of the case. Based on the data pulled for our 2015 Impact Report, LCYC Staff Attorneys proactively advocated for placement in over 70% of our cases out court. Placement was also the largest legal issue necessitating in court litigation; 42% of motions filed by LCYC were as to the child's placement.
When LCYC began representing "Ray," he was in a special education school for students with severe behavior disorders. Ray was not connected to family and placed in a residential facility. LCYC's advocacy in and out of court reconnected Ray with his biological family and led to his transition into a family foster home. After much team work, advocacy, effort on behalf of the youth, and unwavering support from a foster family, Ray transitioned to a main stream high school and no longer requires a behavioral plan. In addition to his school success, Ray celebrated his adoption.
we welcome your support in meeting this critical need
The time an LCYC Staff Attorney spends on educational advocacy on behalf of a child in a juvenile offender proceeding is not compensated for by the King County Department of Public Defense (DPD). In cases involving children in foster care, DPD covers some, but not all time spent on educational advocacy. LCYC is in need of outside funding, particularly to ensure our ability to provide services and improve educational outcomes for children involved in the juvenile justice system and to represent children in both systems on challenges to school disciplinary measures.
If you would like to support LCYC's educational advocacy on behalf of children in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, advocacy that goes beyond the realms of public defense and helps increase opportunities and school success for a vulnerable group of youth, consider taking action today.