Anyone who is caring for a child in foster are wants the best for that child. They are expected to make sure that the child is enrolled in the right school and in the appropriate classes; wakes up on time for school; goes to bed on time to have the energy to excel in school; has transportation to and from school; is involved in appropriate after-school activities; completes their homework...and on and on. This can lead to some tension because kids in care, like all kids, don't always want to do what will benefit them in the long run or know exactly the steps it takes to set themselves up for success as an adult. The caretaker has one of the most significant roles in supporting their child in this respect, but fortunately in San Mateo County, they are not alone. There are many resources to reach out to in order to help support the foster youth and their guardian with their educational and emotion success.
Relationship With My Foster Child
Gaining a child's trust is essential to motivating them to achieve their academic success. However, building a relationship is built on mutual trust is the most important and the most challenging aspect of raising a foster youth. Sometimes it may feel that the child does not want to connect with you or your family, but it is important that you continue reaching out to the child and make them feel as though they are part of the family.
Early on in your relationship is the time to focus on integrating the child and building trust. As trust grows, your authority will also accumulate. Once children connect with an adult and feel supported by them, the adult's directives and expectations take on more authority and weight in the child's mind. The trust that is established early on will go a long way in helping the child to buy into your emphasis on education down the road.
Day to Day Educational Support
Enrollment & Orientation
- It is important to review your child's academic records prior to enrolling your child
- Understand your child's social, emotional and academic functioning and potential
- Request a meeting early in the child's placement at the new school
- Get to know your school counselor or principal, and relay important information to them
Understanding School Culture
- Know school rules and expectations: dress code, bell schedule, calendar, behavior policies
- Make sure your child has adequate school supplies on the first day of school and throughout
- Make sure your child has a class schedule that matches their interests, needs and goals, especially related to higher education
- Inquire about extracurricular, after-school and enrichment opportunities
Having direct communication with teachers/staff at the school early and often
- Stand out among the caregivers of students at the school by being proactive
- Encourage teachers to reach out to you by letting them know who you are and providing contact information (email, phone)
- Ask for progress reports or access to web-based grades so that you can keep up to date on homework and academic progress
- Ask for help from the school administrators, the social worker, educational liaisons and CASAs when needed. You are not in this alone!
Working with your child
- Build on your child's strengths and help them learn new skills to address their weaknesses
- Understand and support the child's completing of school assignments - know what they are supposed to be doing, when assignments are due, and help them help themselves
- Provide a structured time for homework, reading assignments and projects at home
- Emphasize to your child the importance of school to future success
- Having patience, unconditional respect and offering encouragement can go a long way