Foster Youth School Choice



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Foster Youth School Choice

By LaTrisha Avery

Have you ever been forced to go to a school that you didn’t want to just because it was easier for the adults making decisions in your life? Well I have. Last year I had to battle to stay in the school that was in my best interest, it worked out in the end but it was a battle.

Most youth in foster care do not have a say when it comes to the school they attend. We do not even have the chance to put in our two cents during the process. Most just go to the school that their social worker puts them in and that is it. How do I know all of this you ask? Last year while I was still in foster care, and in my Junior year at Suitland High School in Maryland, I moved in with my sister in Washington DC. Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) said that I could finish my junior year at Suitland High School but would have to transfer for my senior year to a school that I knew nothing about. I would lose my support network and not be allowed to graduate with the people I had gone to school with since ninth grade. I knew that if i didn't fight for what I wanted, I would be stuck at a school where I would be unhappy and possible even behind. Graduation requirements for DC schools and Maryland schools are not the same and I would probably be scrambling to have all the credits that I needed.

I did all my research and found out that the only way that I could attend Suitland High School and live in Washington DC was to pay $13,000 to PGCPS. I met with so many people. I worked with my social worker, guardian ad litem, judge, and others involved with my case but nothing was happening. I worked with the interns and staff at my job at The Young Women’s Project to research my educational rights and finally decided to contact CFSA Director Donald. I sent an email to Director Donald explaining my situation. She looked into things and in the end I was able to stay at Suitland High School and be a graduate with the 2014 class.

There are a lot of youth who drop out of high school and never graduate and I think school transfers are a big reason. Many of the other youth in foster care I know have transferred schools 3 or 4 times. If this was your child would you want to keep moving them from school to school? This needs to stop because more children are concerned about their education than you think. Don't just move children because you want to close their case out and save money. I thought that foster care was for the best interest of the child not for social workers reunification rates. Youth should be able to give their opinion about what school they will attend. If a child wants to stay in their school and it is in their best interest then social workers and others need to their jobs and find a way for them to stay at that school so that they can be successful, graduate with their diploma, go to the college and become something in life.