Kids Central’s Education Program provides a collaborative approach for foster children in Circuit 5 (Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion, and Sumter Counties) to identify unmet needs affecting school performance. Kids Central’s Educational Liaison manages all aspects of the collaborative team around the child’s academic success. Further collaboration exists within the Circuit 5 judiciary system, as academic performance is reported to the court during routinely scheduled court hearings, as well as status hearings when significant academic changes for students occur.

Children who have been removed from their home into a foster home or home of a relative caregiver have experienced disruption to some degree which may place them at risk of having difficulty in school or possibly not graduating.  These children struggle at times when they are moved around from school to school, which contributes to falling behind academically.  The lack of stability and parent or other adult involvement in their education causes these kids to fall behind or not have special education needs being met.  Keeping children interested, and hopefully excited about learning, contributes greatly to their progression and educational advancement.  Focusing on dropout prevention in middle school is paramount when peer pressure rises, children assume more responsibility for their education, parental involvement decreases, and curriculum becomes increasingly challenging.

A data exchange system and policies and procedures for professionals and caretakers have been developed to further increase awareness and identify areas of focus needed by all. Ongoing training is being provided to schools, child welfare professionals, caregivers, biological parents, foster parents, and judiciary professionals. Through data exchange and intensive collaboration, professionals and caretakers become knowledgeable and connected to all academic, medical and mental health service provisions to drive the students’ academic success.

The Educational Liaison work diligently to advocate for almost 700 school-aged children in Circuit 5. Kids Central’s multi-faceted solution to improving educational outcomes for youth in foster care include: