It's back-to-school time. What does that mean for kids in foster care?

Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and guardian ad litem (GAL) volunteers serve in many roles. They make sure children who have been abused or neglected have what they need to heal and thrive, including access to a quality education. As an advocate for a child’s best interests, our volunteers make recommendations to the court so that every child has the resources, transportation, and classroom support they need to be successful.

Students in foster care move schools at least once or twice a year. Of the children that age out of the child welfare system, more than one third will have experienced five or more school placements. Each school move causes a child to lose four to six months of academic progress per move, putting them years behind grade-level.

CASA and GAL volunteers often advocate in court for the child’s school placement to stay consistent. A volunteer also collaborates with the child’s courtroom team and the school to make sure the child’s unique educational needs are being met. As a caring, consistent adult in a child’s life, a CASA/GAL volunteer helps a child set goals, celebrate progress, and shows that someone is rooting for them.

We talked to one volunteer in California who spoke about her role as an education advocate for her assigned youth: “A couple of semesters ago, she was failing four out of five of her classes. When I learned she simply wasn’t doing her homework, I asked her why,” said the volunteer. “Her response was, ‘Who cares?’ And I realized that was exactly the problem. Her parents weren’t around. Her foster mom might not be her foster mom next month. So that’s when I spoke up and said, ‘Well, I care. CASA cares.’”

National CASA and our nationwide network of staff and volunteers are committed to the highest quality educational advocacy on behalf of America’s most vulnerable children. Every child deserves a quality education and the resources of the community to thrive as a student. We’re approaching the 2017-2018 school year determined to get the best results for the children we serve.

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