I had the opportunity to attend a press conference on Educational Instability experienced by children and youth in foster care a couple of weeks ago. “Back to School, Back to Instability” was hosted by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute and Fostering Media Connections.* A balance of perspectives was presented, with speakers including senators, former foster youth, a public agency representative, and a former foster parent (also a senator). The presentations also provided balance in terms of experiences and quality of care, both good and not-so-good.
The whole concept of educational stability is a no-brainer, in my opinion. Of course kids will have more positive experiences if they are not switching schools throughout their childhood. Geez, its traumatic enough to be uprooted from their home; the least we can do is make sure they stay connected to their friends, teachers, classes.
The thing I like about events such as the “Back to School, Back to Instability” press event is that I usually come away with at least one great idea or insight that makes me think there is hope for the child welfare system. On a good day, I come away with several. One take-away from this event came from Molly McGrath, Director of the Baltimore City Department of Social Services in Baltimore, MD. She shared something that seemed so obvious I’m surprised everyone isn’t doing this. She explained their collaboration with the schools when a child is removed from their parent or guardian. The child welfare agency works with the school to identify the emergency contact names provided to the schools by parents. Of course, this is someone the parent trusts to care for their child if they cannot be reached. And of course, this is someone who likely knows the child and has a relationship with them. So of course, they are an obvious person to consider regarding potential placement or at the very least, to serve as a support to the child and parent. Its so simple, it is amazing to me that we did not do this when I was a case worker.
This is just another example of why we need to do a better job of sharing information and resources so that kids benefit from the great ideas that are being generated every day around the country.
Another hundredth monkey concept that deserves to be spread….
*Thanks to Daniel Heimpel for an excellent event!