Monday, Aug 13, 2018
CASAs Help Children Start the School Year Off Right
When a child starts the school year in a new grade it can be exciting and a bit scary. A new teacher to get used to, new subjects to learn, and perhaps new children to meet. If they are transitioning from elementary school to middle school, or middle school to high school they also have to adjust to a new school and new expectations. Imagine then, what it is like for children in foster care who often change schools multiple times a year. The stress of always being in a new situation is profoundly challenging for youth in foster care.
It is estimated that foster children move schools at least twice a year, and by the time they age out of the system, over one third will have changed schools five or more times. The result of all of these changes is that youth in foster care lag behind every other group of students; children in poverty, non-English speaking children and children with disabilities. Children in foster care are estimated to lose 4 to 6 months of academic progress with each move, causing them to fall behind and, later, decreasing the chances they will graduate from high school, a predictor of later success in life. In Santa Clara County, only 47% of young people in foster care complete high school by age 18.
Thankfully, our Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteers create better outcomes for foster youth. They help keep foster children in the same school longer and secure the educational resources the children need to advance academically. Last year, 100% of our CASA 8th graders progressed to 9th grade. 75% of our CASA high school seniors graduated and another 15 are on track to complete their high school requirements by September 2018. If the remaining 15 are successful in completing their high school requirements, the high school completion rate for FY18 will be 95%.
An April 2018 survey of our CASA volunteers illustrated the impact CASAs feel they have on their foster child’s life:
- 93% felt they have made a positive difference in their child’s life
- 75% provided educational support to their child over the last year
- 53% saw an improvement in their child’s success at school while another 15% saw continued high performance
- 82% engaged in healthy eating and physical activities with their child that encouraged a healthy life style
- 94% felt their court recommendations were fully considered by the judge presiding over their child’s case
- 97% would recommend the CASA experience to others
If you or someone you know would like to help mentor a foster child, please consider volunteering as a CASA. You can find more information about volunteering here. Please also consider making a donation to help us provide a CASA to a foster child on our waitlist. You can make a donation online here.