Educational Advocacy Basics: What You Can Do
Ensuring an appropriate education for your foster youth requires patience and perseverance. As a CASA, you will be crucial in finding the middle ground where a foster youth's academic needs are supported by both the necessary resources and educational staff.
Below is a list of ways in which you can begin to get involved. Use this list as a starting point if you have just been assigned to case, or as a mental checklist for periodic reference with an ongoing case.
- Include information about your youth’s educational situation in court reports.
- Determine who holds educational rights for your youth and inform the court when there is a need for an educational representative (see Holding Educational Rights) This could be a youth's biological family member, foster parent, CASA, or other designated individual.
- Monitor your youth’s school attendance and records.
- Ask your student how he or she likes school and about the quality of his or her education. Document any concerns and discuss them with the teacher, social worker, or academic service provider.
- If your youth changes foster homes, advocate that they remain in the same school, if in their best interest. In case of a school change, facilitate enrollment and transfer of records.
- Advocate to teachers for the opportunity to make up work missed for court appearances, medical appointments, or other conflicts.
- Learn about age-appropriate developmental milestones and help identify potential areas of delay.
- If concerns are identified, request an evaluation for special education services.
- If your youth is eligible for special education services, attend IEP meetings and monitor progress towards IEP goals.
- Recommend tutoring or other academic help for youth that need extra support and are not eligible for special education.
- Identify your youth's strengths and recommend academic or extracurricular activities that support them.
- Advocate for the maintenance of existing activities
- Stay up-to-date on services and resources available for youth entering into and aging out of the foster or school system.
Foster Youth Services and Liaisons in CA: Relevant contacts and information about Foster Youth Services Coordinating Programs and Educational Liaisons for foster youth throughout California.
Educational Advocacy Basics PowerPoint: A presentation covering the basics of Educational Advocacy training and goals.
California Foster Care Education Fact Sheet: A go-to resource for CASAs on Education for foster care and the challenges youth may face.