Educational Advocacy

All children have a right to an education.

All children have the right to an education.  However; children involved with the child welfare system often struggle due to various factors such as the effects of abuse and neglect, removal from their families, lack of focus on an education, and inadequate support systems. School mobility further affects the natural academic growth, social/emotional development, peer and adult relationships, and other positive educational outcomes for students. With nearly 40% of youth in out-of-home care experiencing a disability that impacts them in the school setting, additional challenges are faced. Due to the multitude of issues that can complicate progression in school, it is imperative that the personnel responsible for the education of these children work collaboratively to initiate and maintain procedures to foster student success.

The over-arching focus of the Education Department is to create an awareness of these students’ unique educational needs and facilitate supportive educational interventions.  Our goal is to provide students with the best opportunity for school success through effective advocacy, technical assistance and collaboration with the key stakeholders involved in the care and education of children served in out-of-home care and our prevention programs.

Through strong partnerships with the school districts in Circuit 5 (Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion, and Sumter counties), the Education Department maintains a collaborative approach to meeting the educational needs of our over 900 school-aged youth in out-of-home care.

Referrals for Education Liaison services come from case management agencies, DCF, diversion and prevention providers, Guardian ad Litems, school districts and other community partners. Specifically, the Education Liaison:

  • Provides technical assistance within the child welfare system on education matters
  • Consults with Child Welfare staff, parents providers, and other community stakeholders as needed
  • Participates in school-based conferences and IEP staffings, as needed
  • Promotes collaboration between child welfare and educational personnel
  • Assesses tutoring requests and process accordingly
  • Coordinates educational staffings as needed
  • Provides ongoing training for child welfare professionals, caregivers, foster parents, and GAL’s on a variety of educationally related topics
  • Assesses the need for, and facilitates the appointment of, surrogate parents for eligible children
  • Works with Independent Living staff to support completion of secondary education for youth approaching, and reaching, adulthood