The DeKalb County CASA staff had the wonderful opportunity to participate in DeKalb’s Education Summit last week. It was a great event and we learned so much about Georgia’s AND, in particular, DeKalb’s education system and how foster children are affected. We also learned about ways we can improve foster children’s educational outcomes.
Juvenile Court Judge Vincent Crawford and Gary Frazier, from the Department of Family and Children Services, discussed DeKalb County’s Independent Living Program at the Summit. They presented to those in attendance information about foster youth who lack a plan and are and are getting ready to “age out”. They stated:
- 46% lack a high school diploma
- 42% are teen parents
- 46% battle drug addiction
- 51% are unemployed (because they have no education), those who are employed earn (on average) less than minimum wage
- 27% have spent time in jail
- 25% have been homeless
- 4% die.
As CASA Volunteers, we must ask the teens we serve what they are doing about their future. It is never too early to begin thinking about what is next for them as they approach 18.
Judge Crawford explained how there are many questions that need to be answered at the 90 Day Review Hearing. Those questions include: Has the teencompleted high school? Does the teen plan on attending college? Does the teen have a job lined up? Does the teen have any job skills? Where does the teen plan on living? Does the teen have continued support after they exit foster care? Does the teen have an insurance plan? Do they have a photo ID, Social Security Card, and Birth Certificate?
So, how do we go about preparing our teens to answer these questions???
Georgia’s Independent Living Program provides youth with free help in applying for college, finding financial aid and scholarships, finding a job (Teen-Work), and up to $10,000 per year for school. The ILP also offers many other workshops and provides resources to foster children, group homes, and foster parents.
I think it’s important and an achievement that needs to be shared – DeKalb’s ILP has been noted as one of, if not, the best in the nation. Much praise is needed, however, they are failing in one particular component…participation. Not enough children in foster care are taking advantage of the services offered through this program.
We can only ask that you get them involved! Help the child you serve understand their options, understand that they can go to college, own an apartment, and obtain a degree! Help them prosper, help them grow! #advocate #volunteer #onevoiceonechild
If you have questions, feel free to contact our staff.
Also, Gary Frazier is DeKalb’s Independent Living Program Director and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.