San Mateo County Foster Youth Services
Foster Youth Services in San Mateo County is a partnership between San Mateo County Office of Education and Human Services Agency, and works in collaboration with multiple agencies and non-profit organizations across our county. This page is specifically designed for San Mateo foster parents, social workers, group home providers, CASAs, and shelter-care staff in San Mateo County to provide information and resources to support our foster youth's education.
We provide an Educational Success Handbook which serves as a layman's guide to enrolling your child in school, supporting them while in care, and preparing them for transition should they move to another placement.
Foster Youth Services is a program of the California Department of Education, resulting from Assembly Bill (AB) 490, effective 1/1/2004. Our Program seeks to improve educational outcomes for foster youth by establishing a level of collaboration and communication between schools, social service agencies, and foster youth caretakers that previously did not exist.
Educational liaisons are advocates who work to address the educational issues involved with foster youth, and who ensure and facilitate the proper enrollment into appropriate educational programs (Ed Code 48853.5). Additionally, liaisons provide the following services:
- Consultation regarding educational issues
- Gather educational records
- Evaluate transcripts
- Advocate for foster youth and their families on educational issues
- Assist with educational transitions
- Provide resources and referrals
- Provide training to local education agencies, group homes, social services, and probation on educational issues affecting foster youth
Foster Youth Services (FYS) is a program designed to serve the unique educational needs of children in foster care. Through our partnership with San Mateo Human Services agency, we seek to serve all youth in out-of-home placement including children living in foster homes, group homes, youth shelters, and residential treatment facilities.
FYS ensures that health and school records are obtained to establish appropriate placements and coordinate instruction, counseling, tutoring, mentoring, vocational training, emancipation services, training for independent living, and other related services. It seeks to improve the children's educational performance and personal achievement, increasing the stability of placements for foster youth.
Education Success Handbook
The Ed Success Handbook is the product of the Ed Success Working Group, a partnership working to ensure the educational needs of San Mateo County's dependent youth are met. The Ed Success Working Group is composed of staff from Foster Youth Services, Children and Family Services, CASA of San Mateo County, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and Legal Advocates for Children and Youth.
This guide serves to give caretakers, social workers, and probation officers an overview of key information to support our foster youth educationally. Statistically, foster youth have unique challenges as they move through their years of K-12 education, especially those that result from multiple school placements due to changing home placements. The links to Foster Ed Connect (our statewide foster youth website) provide a wide array of resources if you wish to research any of these topics in more detail. Keep in mind that you will need to register (free) with Foster Ed Connect to access the information on that site.
Anyone who is caring for a child in foster care 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 so that they 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 available to help support the foster youth and their guardian with their educational and emotional 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 that is based 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
School districts will generally allow whomever the child is living with or a designee from child welfare such as an Educational Liaison to enroll a child in school. Foster parents, group home providers, and social workers are also often able to grant permission to attend field trips, review the child's cumulative file, and perform other functions that schools would normally expect a parent to execute. This latitude allows for greater flexibility in normalizing the child's school experience and meeting their needs. There are limits however, to what a person acting as a parent can do.
While substitute caregivers, social workers, and others can make some decisions regarding a child's education, the parent will retain a child's “educational rights” until the Juvenile Court Judge makes a specific order to limit the right of the parent or guardian to make educational decisions for the child. When the Court limits a parent's rights, they must also appoint a substitute decision maker, most often an "educational representative."
The Educational Representative holds all educational rights a parent or guardian would have and is expected to make education-related decisions on behalf of the child. They are expected to have knowledge and skills, comply with confidentiality laws, meet with the child at least once, and participate in school meetings. There are limits to who can become the educational representative. For instance, there is a strict prohibition on social workers, school district employees, and group home staff serving in this role. Relatives, caregivers and CASAs are commonly identified to become a child's educational representative.
While the holder of educational rights does not necessarily have to participate in every school function (as discussed at the beginning of this section), they are the only ones who can approve special education assessments and Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). thus, it is particularly important for adults who are working with children in special education or with children who may need to be assessed to know who holds the child's education rights.
The following information should be provided to you by the placing social worker. Obtaining this knowledge prior to school enrollment will help to ensure the most appropriate and immediate school placement:
- What school does my child attend and what grade is he/she in? This information will be provided by the social worker upon placement. Additionally, the social worker routinely gives foster parents an updated Health and Education Passport which provides important school and medical history.
- What is my child's educational history? How many schools has my child attended? Are there concerns that have not been addressed? Is this child in an appropriate school setting? Talking to a principal, counselor or teacher from the child's current school upon placement will provide enormous insight into your child's history and needs, and help you make better decisions about what can be done to support your child in school.
- Is it in my child's best interest to remain at their current school? Imagine being a child and not only having to adjust to a new home, but also a new school and making new friends all at once! Allowing a child to continue at their school until the end of the school year can often make the new home adjustment a little easier. It is wise to consider the option of allowing them to stay if it is in the child's best interest, even if it is inconvenient. This is also a right protected under AB490. Make sure to consult with the child's educational rights holder, the educational liaison and the youth before making educational placement changes.
- Does my child have special education services? There is a significantly higher incidence of children in foster care requiring special education services. Request that the school provide you documents that address special education services (an IEP) that are in place. In some cases, children may need a psycho-educational assessment if the child has learning or emotional disabilities. Please refer to the section about special education in the guidebook for further information.
- Who holds educational rights on my child? Unless the Court has specifically limited the rights of the parents to make educational decisions on your child, then the decision-making remains with the parent. If the birth parent is not demonstrating the interest or ability to make competent decisions for their child, please discuss this with the child's social worker.
- Do I have all relevant school documents? Social workers and educational liaisons can assist in requesting documents from a child's previous school. Transcripts, behavioral reports, attendance reports, and special education documents will all provide a good snapshot of how the child is doing, and provide information in placing the child with the right teacher or program. Immunizations (and sometimes birth certificate) are also eventually required when a child transfers to a new school. Missing school records should not delay their enrollment. If you encounter any delays, please contact your San Mateo County Office of Education Educational Liaisons for immediate support.
- Did my child receive all credit due from previous school(s)? If in high school, did my child receive partial credits per AB490 foster youth education law from all schools attended? Many foster youth lose semesters and even years from transferring schools when these credits aren't issued and calculated into the next schools transcript.
Getting your child enrolled quickly
If it is determined that enrollment in a new school is in a child's best interest, or necessary for other reasons, these steps will help facilitate your child's enrollment into school immediately.
First, immediately contact your local school district Attendance & Welfare Office to determine where the enrollment process begins. (Note: most elementary districts don't have an Attendance & Welfare Office. If they are enrolling in an elementary school, the school secretary can answer most questions and help get the child enrolled.) Some districts allow you to enroll directly at the local school, while others require you to submit documents to the school district while determining what school has space for your child.
Next, bring these documents with you to enroll your child:
- In some cases, you will need to show a letter from your social worker placing the child with you.
- Transcript or grade report cards from most current school
- Immunization records (and in some cases, birth certificate)
- Special Education documents (IEP, psychological report)
- Proof of residence; mortgage document or rental agreement, pay stub, PG&E bill, phone bill
If they do not enroll your child immediately
The law requires the school district to immediately enroll your child in school, regardless of missing documents including immunizations. If your child has special education services, it is customary to allow a day for the school to determine appropriate placement. If you find the school district presenting barriers to immediate enrollment, remind them of the foster youth laws. Contact the foster youth liaisons listed in this manual if you are experiencing delays or difficulties.
Should I tell the new school that my child is a foster youth?
Many foster parents find that letting the school know that their new student is a foster placement is helpful in identifying resources within the school to support their child.
Applying for free lunch
All foster youth have the right to free lunch (and sometimes breakfast) at their school. Please ask for the application during the enrollment process, and ask how this works at your child's particular school.
Transporting your child to and from school can be challenging for a foster parent, especially when the school is some distance away. The school district may be responsible to transport in the case of homeless youth, and/or if they qualify for special education. It is a collaborative effort between caretakers, school districts and agencies to provide transportation for foster youth to school. Please contact your social worker or an advocate if you are having difficulty establishing how transportation will be provided, especially if you anticipate it will affect home placement issues.
What about tutoring and after-school programs?
Consult with the school directly to see what is available on-site both during and after school. Tutoring is available at most school sites or in an on-site program provided by another agency. Should you require after-school programs for your child, talk to your principal or counselor about available options. Please check with your social worker about after-school program fees; in some situations, a program may be willing to give a reduction in fees or have scholarships for foster youth. Should you need help finding programs for your youth, employ a social worker, advocate or educational liaison to assist you.
My child is already enrolled in the appropriate school when they are placed. Is there anything I need to do?
If your child will be staying at their current school, the foster parent must go to the district office and change the home address of the student. That way you will be notified in case of emergency, and receive other important school information including grades, conference notices, etc.
Consider the following in order to determine appropriate educational placement:
- If your child has special education needs, be sure comparable services are available when transferring to a new school program as required by an existing IEP. A 30-day placement IEP meeting must be held if the new school district is changing the child's program or services from the previous IEP.
- Placement decisions shall be made to ensure each foster child has the same opportunities educationally that all students have, including least restrictive placement, and access to the academic resources, services, extracurricular and enrichment activities as all other pupils.
- Ask the school or previous school if your child has a 504 Plan, extensive discipline records, current expulsion from school, grade report and attendance report. This information is valuable in determining what school program might best serve your child.
Educational Settings Glossary
This setting is often referred to by students as a "regular" or "normal" school. If the child you are working with does not have a disability (and, for high school students, is not significantly behind in attaining credits), they will most likely receive their education in a traditional school offered by their school district of residence.
Resource Specialist Program (RSP)
When a child has a disability and is eligible for special education, they will often receive some or all of their instruction with more support than the general education setting provides. A special education student with an RSP designation will spend up to half of the school day (but usually less) in a small class setting, receiving help from the RSP teacher to complete assignments and understand material from the general education classes they are enrolled in. Less frequently, students will receive instruction on material not covered in their general education from the RSP teacher. It is very common for special education students to participate in an RSP at the traditional school they attend.
Special Day Class (SDC)
Special day classes serve students who, because of their disabilities, cannot participate in general education classes for a majority of the day. And SDC often consists of a very small number of students and is located on the general education sites. As appropriate, students enrolled in special day classes will attend some general education classes as appropriate. SDC students will also interact with their general education peers through non-academic and extracurricular activities.
Therapeutic Day School
For a child to be considered for placement in a Therapeutic Day School they must be eligible for mental health services under AB3632 (Chapter 26.5) and have exhibited extreme difficulty in participating in less restrictive special education placements. Therapeutic day schools offer integrated special education and mental health services to adolescents at risk of failure because of social, emotional, or learning difficulties.
California Education Code defines a nonpublic school as a “private, nonpublic, nonsectarian school that enrolls individuals with exceptional needs pursuant to an Individualized Education Program (IEP).” Children are only placed in nonpublic schools if they have a valid IEP requiring placement at an NPS or the person holding educational rights consents. Nonpublic schools are only to be used when the district has no public program that can meet the child's needs.
Community Schools serve 6th to 12th grade students who are considered at-risk, including students who have been expelled, are on probation, or for whom districts have run out of interventions. Typically, youth remain at these schools for a semester to a year. In rare cases, youth will remain at these schools for longer than a year. Community Schools are considered schools of last resort. Community school programs are intended to have low student-teacher ratios, attempt to close the skills gap, focus on pro-social skills, self-esteem, and resiliency. Upon admission, students take a basic adult skills test and an individual learning plan is created. For high school students, community schools offer credit recovery. Accumulating credits tends to be the focus of both teachers and students at community schools, in addition to getting them on the right track. Students are most often referred to a community school by a probation officer, but a parent or guardian can request placement and there is a district-level referral process as well. Community schools in the county are run by the San Mateo County Office of Education.
The court schools in San Mateo County are located at the Youth Services Center (Juvenile Hall) and Camp Glenwood (for boys). Like community schools, the court schools' programs are focused on attaining credits and improving outcomes for this high-risk population. The court schools are operated by the San Mateo County Office of Education.
Ensuring Education Rights and Stability for Foster Youth
January 1, 2004 California voted in AB490 which imposes new duties and rights related to education of dependents in foster care including:
- Allows immediate enrollment of foster youth in school despite missing records, immunizations or uniforms
- Requires transfer of records from one school to another within 2 days of receiving transfer request
- Allows foster youth to remain enrolled in and attend his/her school of origin pending resolution of school placement disputes
- Placement in the least restrictive educational placement
- Access to same academic resources, services, extracurricular and enrichment activities as all other children
- All school placement and educational decisions are determined by child's best interest
- Allows foster children to remain in their school of origin for the duration of the school year when placement changes (if in the child's best interest)
- County placing agencies to consider educational stability must consider home placements in child's school attendance area
- Foster care educational liaisons are designated by LEAs to ensure proper placement, transfer and enrollment in school
- LEAs and social workers/probation officers jointly responsible for timely transfer of records when foster youth change schools
- Comprehensive schools will be considered first school placement option for foster youth
- Requires school districts to calculate and accept credit for full or partial coursework satisfactorily completed by the student while attending a public school, juvenile court school, or nonpublic school. Ensures that foster youth are not penalized for absences due to court appearances, placement changes, or related court ordered activities
What is an advocate?
An advocate is someone who stands up for the interests of another person. No special training or formal status is required (although foster parents are urged to seek as much training and assistance as possible - see section on Resources for more information). There is no single way to be a good advocate, but for an education advocate, the following are keys to helping a student succeed.
Who are my child's advocates in San Mateo County?
- Foster Parent, Guardian or Caregiver: An effective caregiver understands what is going on with the child emotionally, physically and educationally. Living with a child gives an opportunity to really connect with a child and to advocate on their behalf for their best interest. This doesn't always mean giving a child what they want, but standing up for what the child needs is vital.
- Social worker: Every dependent child is assigned a social worker, who, among many other responsibilities, must help ensure that the child's educational needs are being met by attending meetings, offering a critical understanding of needs, providing assistance via transportation, and requesting needed resources within the community.
- Educational Liaisons, Foster Youth Services: Our county liaisons provide collaborative services to support all foster youth in the county, working as a liaison between schools, social workers, CASAs, mental health, probation and other agencies. They can request school records; attend meetings when extra assistance is needed including IEP, SST, discipline and other educational meetings; provide information and resources; and make referrals to other agencies.
- Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs): CASAs are volunteers appointed by the Juvenile Court Judge to spend time with and advocate for a dependent child. CASAs are trained in many areas, but supporting their child's educational success is one of their primary roles. If your foster child does not have a CASA, either call the CASA Program or ask your child's social worker about it.
- Family and Friends: Sometimes relatives and family friends may provide essential support, information, and history to our foster youth. Please consult with a social worker to recommend anyone that may be appropriate in this role.
While those outside supports can play a big role, the support that the caregiver provides in the home setting can be crucial to a child's success. This support begins with your relationship with the child.
What do Advocates do?
- Create relationships with school staff and others who can help: In an ideal world, schools, families and communities are working together to provide the best for each student. This is not always the reality, however, and relationships can go sour when difficult issues arise. Try to maintain a positive, helpful approach in dealing with all school staff, from teachers and aides to supervisors and managers, including principals and superintendents. It is important to attend parent-teacher conferences and other meetings regarding the child, as well as school events. Check in with teachers regularly, not just when there's a problem. When problems arise, follow up, and respond to all school communications promptly. Ask the child or young person how things are going, and suggest ways to help the child to communicate effectively with teachers and staff. When problems do arise, always ask for and listen carefully to the school's side of the issue.
- Be persistent, yet flexible: An advocate should rarely accept "no" for an answer. Moreover, the educational advocacy role should continue as long as the child remains in your home. Yet the advocate must also recognize that in some circumstances a change in the goal for a child may be necessary. Knowing when to compromise, and when to shift goals for a child is a challenging task. Finding other foster parents or others with advocacy experience to provide advice and counsel can be very helpful in making these decisions.
- Be prepared - The parent or educational surrogate has the right to inspect and review a complete copy of the educational records of a child. It is important to review the entire record carefully. If there are parts of the records that are unclear, ask school staff for an explanation. For many children or youth in care, the school records may be incomplete or inaccurate, because the child has moved several times. The school should make an effort to locate records and have them transferred from other schools, ensuring that all proper credit is documented. Educational liaisons and social workers can assist.
- Keeping records and making a record: Don't throw away anything, and that includes the child's school work. Keep homework, tests, and other school work that a child brings home. Organize everything into files or even a three ring binder, with material under each topic in chronological order. It is also very useful to keep an ongoing log of all contacts with school staff, reports received for a child, and other developments concerning a child's educational experience. Put all requests in writing, and confirm telephone requests or oral requests made at meetings with a letter. Always keep a copy of letters you send to the school. One useful strategy is to hand deliver a letter to the school, and ask school personnel to sign and date your copy, acknowledging receipt.
- Keep looking for allies: Some of the best allies can be sympathetic school staff, whether a teacher or administrator. Other important allies can be foster parents who have gone through a similar experience, who may offer practical advice and moral support. Other allies may be found in the child welfare community. The child welfare agency that placed the child in your home may offer specialized technical help in dealing with educational agencies. The child should have a guardian-ad-litem, or attorney appointed for juvenile or family court matters who may also become a resource on educational issues, even if informally. Disability organizations offer a wealth of technical information; the national groups listed in the resource section have websites with links to state and local affiliates. In addition, there are several advocacy and training organizations, including parent training and information centers, protection and advocacy centers, and legal services programs that may offer additional assistance.
Even the most prepared and well-intentioned caregiver may not be able to prevent a child from struggling in school. All available research demonstrates that kids in foster care struggle tremendously compared to their non-foster care peers. Children in foster care often have histories of behavioral challenges, educational neglect, disabilities, and other barriers that are heightened by the trauma of being removed from their parents. In many instances, academic struggles are not new to the child and have followed them from their previous placements. In fact, the school struggles can be a source of tension in a foster home that can lead to placement failure. Identifying and responding early to a child's struggles at school (behavioral, social or academic) can not only help the child get the support they need to excel in school but it can also prevent a child from failing in a placement.
- When you see signs of trouble:
- Request a meeting (sometimes called an SST - see below)
- Understand the child's perspective prior to the meeting
- Get the teacher's perspective on the child's struggles
- With the school create an intervention plan
- Schedule a follow-up meeting to review effectiveness of interventions
What is a Student Success Team (SST) meeting?
If your child's difficulty with school seems to be more comprehensive than one subject or class, ask the teacher or counselor to organize an SST meeting. Teachers, administrators, social workers, educational liaisons, caretakers and the child should be invited to participate. During the meeting, academics, behavior, attendance, work ethic, and skills will be discussed. A specific academic plan, along with the individual responsibilities and timelines, should be developed and put in writing to help the child improve. A follow-up meeting should be organized to discuss the child's progress after implementing the action plan.
What if the problems persist?
Consider the appropriateness of requesting a psycho-educational assessment to determine possible learning, physical, emotional or psychological disabilities that may be impacting their educational performance.
What is a disability?
A disability is an impairment that interferes with a child's ability to learn. In general, the term "disabled" is used to describe a child who has mental, physical or emotional impairments that affect his or her ability to learn. To qualify for special education services in school, a student's impairment must also meet the definition of a disability under special education laws. It is important to recognize that having a disability does not mean that a child isn't smart or can't learn. It simply means that he or she needs special instruction or extra help in certain areas.
What is Special Education?
Some children have a mental, physical or emotional disability that makes it difficult for them to learn in the traditional public school settings offered in their communities. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the federal law that holds school districts legally responsible for providing special education programs to ensure that these children are given an opportunity to access the free and appropriate public education they are entitled to by law. Special education programs known as Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) include a wide range of accommodations to meet the child's needs, from timed tests to a one-on-one aide to special schools.
Who is eligible for Special Education?
The child you are caring for may already have an IEP. If that is the case, it is important for you to understand the disability the child has and the support services the school has in place to meet the child's needs and ensure that he or she is able to access the school curriculum. There are 13 eligibility categories under IDEA. If the child you are caring for does not have an IEP but you believe he or she may need one, you, or anyone who knows the child well, can initiate the assessment process.
How to Initiate a Special Education Assessment
Step 1: Request that the child be assessed for a disability.
Anyone who knows the child well can request that he or she be evaluated for a disability. These requests are best made in writing with some specific reasons why you believe the child should be evaluated. Often, school districts prefer to hold Student Study Team (SST) meetings prior to assessing a child. An SST is a meeting where teachers, caregivers, and others can discuss the challenges (and successes) the child is having and propose some regular education resources that may alleviate the problems. SSTs can be productive; however there is no legal requirement to hold an SST before assessing a child.
Step 2: The district sends an assessment plan to the holder of educational rights (more on educational decision making below).
Once an assessment request is made, the school district has 15 days to either provide an assessment plan or deny the request. If the district denies the request, you have the right to challenge the decision.
Step 3: The educational decision maker consents to the district's assessment plan.
The assessment plan will include a number of evaluation areas (for example, Language/Speech Development and Social/Emotional/Adaptive/Behavior). The district will only evaluate the areas which have a check in the corresponding box. If you believe that the district has not identified all of the appropriate evaluation areas, contact the district representative who sent the assessment plan. If you are satisfied with the proposed assessment plan, sign it and fax or send it back to the district representative. The district will have 60 days to complete the assessment and hold a meeting to discuss the results of the assessment. If the child is found to be eligible for special education, the district will present, at this initial meeting, an outline of what your child's Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will consist of - in other words, what modifications they are proposing to better serve your child in light of their newly identified disability. Their proposed plan is not final, and this initial IEP meeting will give you an opportunity to shape your child's IEP. The IEP will not be implemented until the holder of educational rights signs the document. Once they do, the IEP should go into effect immediately. If, after the assessment, the district determines that the child is not eligible for special education, they will discuss this finding. You may disagree with this finding, and you do have recourse.
What is an Individualized Education Program (IEP)?
An IEP is a document that spells out the specific services a child with a disability needs in order to access the free public education they are entitled to by law. An IEP is legally binding, which means that the contents of the program must be followed by the school. The IEP is developed at the child's initial IEP meeting, and annually thereafter, by a team that includes, at minimum, a child's parent or educational representative, a general education teacher, a special education teacher, a district representative, and anyone else who the parent or district thinks would contribute to the meeting. In many circumstances, the student should be in attendance, but it may be wise to hold part of the meeting with only the adults in the room. An IEP can only be implemented when the holder of educational rights agrees to the content of the IEP and signs it. There are many components of an IEP but here are some of the most important that will be described in the IEP document:
- The student's present level of educational performance, including how the child's disability affects their involvement and progress in a regular education setting.
- Measurable annual goals (and short-term objectives) related to a child's disability-related needs and methods of evaluating whether the goals are being met.
- Specific education services, supports, aids, and modifications that the school will provide to the child to reach their goals and progress in the general education setting.
- The type of school placement needed to implement the IEP in the "least restrictive environment" possible.
When are IEP meetings held?
A meeting to review and update a child's IEP must be held annually and a child is to be every three years. The holder of a child's education rights can request an IEP meeting whenever they feel one is necessary, to review goals, to modify the IEP, and so on. The district can either hold one or respond in writing why they don't feel one is not necessary. When a child is moved to a new school, the new school is bound by law to implement the program described in the child's previous IEP. While it is wise to set up a meeting soon after any child's enrollment in a new school, it is particularly important for children in special education to ensure that the new school understands the child's disability and history and implements the child's IEP immediately.
Kids in care are sometimes unfairly stigmatized because of their unstable home lives. However, our young people are also dealing with some unresolved emotional issues that can contribute to conflict in many settings, including school. Whatever the factors contributing to a discipline issue a child is facing in school, it is important to keep some principles in mind:
- Every child has a right to an education, whether they've misbehaved or not. If a child is suspended for behavior, they still need to receive instructional materials while they are serving their suspension.
- A child and their supporters have a right to challenge their punishment if is unfair or if there is a disagreement about what happened.
- Should a child with an IEP have considerable behavioral issues leading to an expulsion hearing, a special meeting called a "Manifestation Determination" must happen first to determine if the unacceptable behavior is a result of their disability.
School suspensions and expulsions
Suspensions and expulsions are two types of school discipline. Both are regulated by California Educational Code 48900. Both suspensions and expulsions must contain two elements: an act prohibited by the Educational Code and a connection to school [EC48900(r)]. Remember, the act must be related to a school activity. This means, while on school grounds, while on the way to or from school, during lunch or recess, or during, to or from school sponsored activities.
Students cannot be suspended or expelled for tardiness or excessive absences from school.
Please be aware that there are certain ZERO Tolerance offenses for which the school board must expel a student [EC48915(b)]. These include:
- Possessing, selling or furnishing a firearm
- Brandishing a knife
- Selling a controlled substance
- Committing or attempting to commit sexual assault
- Possession of an explosive
Special Education Discipline
California special education discipline law incorporates federal law (IDEA) through the California Ed Code 48915.5.
Please be aware that if your youth has a disability under IDEA there are some differences in the discipline process. You will want to understand how the following impacts your foster youth, and consult with an advocate or legal authority to ensure your child's rights are being met:
- Change in placement
- Patterns of suspension
- Manifestation Determination
- After the Manifestation Determination
The fact is that many of our foster youth change placements and schools while in care, sometimes many times more than we would like. The school change in itself puts the student at a disadvantage, as research shows that they lose approximately four months of progress for every change.
The following are important considerations to ensure that the student doesn't encounter unnecessary challenges:
- Is it in the child's best interest to remain at their current school? Allowing the child to maintain their daily routine at school often provides stability when a home placement is happening.
- How would transportation be arranged? This discussion happens between social workers, advocates, liaisons, school districts and foster parents to find a plan that works.
- Is there a semester or summer break which would allow a more natural transition to a new school? Is it possible to maintain school placement until then?
- If my child must transfer to a new school, have I informed the current school so that they can assist in preparing the child and their records?
- Have I returned all books and materials that belong to the current school? (Many schools will send a bill for materials not returned, or attempt to hold back records until fines and fees are paid).
- Have I advised the school registrar that my child is due full or partial credit for all coursework satisfactorily completed? Partial credit award is a foster youth educational right per AB490. Do not depend on the school registrar to know about this law or automatically give credit - it must be requested. Educational liaisons can assist you in making the request and providing guidance to schools about how this is done. This is especially important for high school students who are earning credits toward graduation.
- Have you gathered immunizations, IEPs (special ed documents), psycho-educational reports, test scores and transcripts to be sent to the new school? Social workers and foster parents should take a proactive role in making sure records are transferred from one school to the next. When this doesn't happen, some records are lost to the detriment of the student.
- A foster child's grades cannot be lowered because of absences due to change in placement, attendance at a court hearing, or court-ordered activity. However, it is the foster parent and social worker's responsibility to report these absences to the school directly, in advance if at all possible.
More information on credit transfer and school completion can be found here: Foster Care and Education Q & A
Click on the link above for a tool provided by Sacramento FYS to calculate partial credits. Education Code 49069.5(e)(g) requires that students who leave a school before the end of a term (i.e. semester, trimester) be granted all partial credits earned.
California Department of Education Countywide Foster Youth Program Coordinators
Granting and Transferring of Partial Course Credit Letter
Honoring Emancipated Youth
Honoring Emancipated Youth (HEY) is a San Francisco-based organization dedicated to strengthening and connecting San Francisco’s systems of support so that Bay Area youth emancipating, or “aging out” of the foster care system can enjoy a healthy transition to adulthood.
Partial Credit Calculator
Here is a tool provided by Sacramento FYS to calculate partial credits. Education Code 49069.5 (e) (g) requires that students who leave a school before the end of a term (i.e. semester, trimester) be granted all partial credits earned.
The McKinney-Vento Act includes foster youth awaiting placement in a foster or group home in the definition of homeless.
College Planning Handbook
This section is designed to provide basic information for assisting youth planning to attend college after high school. It is important to remember that each plan is unique and that colleges vary in their requirements and application process, so choosing a school early on and connecting with that specific school is most important. Also, identify someone who will be an education advocate and who will encourage and assist the student with the process.
Plan and Prepare as Early as Possible
Ensure that the right courses are being taken in high school. The "a-g" requirements are specific to students who want to apply directly to a 4-year university. That means college planning may start as early as the 8th grade. Most importantly however, is the value of a strong grade point average and a full curriculum that includes all five key subject areas: math, English, science, social studies and language.
How does a youth start to prepare for college? Students should talk to care providers, teachers, and counselors for advice about college, career interests, and future goals. Youth can also greatly benefit from mentoring programs. Youth should speak with their CASA if they have been appointed one. ILP programs can also provide post secondary education planning services. Some schools and communities have programs like AVID or Upward Bound which greatly increase the educational outcomes of youth attending college.
If a youth wants to go to a 4 year university they need to speak to their 8th grade counselors to make sure they take the necessary classes their freshman year of high school to support those goals.
Perhaps the largest decision a youth needs to make is how they plan to begin their college experience. Many variables must be considered including the academic ability of the student, the maturity level and motivation of the youth and of course, finances. If the student lacks the grades or money to get into the college of choice, attending a community college first may be the best choice. Beginning a college education at a community college can save the student money, give the student a chance to improve grade point average and build a stable transition to a four-year school. We would like to point out that foster youth in our county have access to financial support and many programs are designed to help each youth succeed with their education and/or future careers.
Youth need to take the right classes in high school
To be accepted into a four-year university out of high school, both the California State University (CSU) and the University of California (UC) require the college preparatory pattern of classes referred to as the "a-g" courses for admission. It is important to keep in mind that this is just a start and that there may be additional requirements such as a grade point average and SAT/ACT test scores, etc. See below for a description of tests.
- English: 4 years of college preparatory English composition and literature (take one each year)
- Math: 3 years (4 years are recommended), including Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 or higher mathematics (take one each year)
- History and Social Science: 2 years, including 1 year of US history (or 1 semester of US history and 1 semester of civics or American government) and 1 year of social science
- Laboratory Science: 2 years with a lab class
- Language (other than English): 2 years of the same language (American Sign Language is applicable)
- Visual and Performing Arts: 1 year of dance, drama or theater, music or visual arts
- College Preparatory Elective: 1 year of any college preparatory subject
Good grades ensure access to college
Good grades can be the deciding factor on whether or not a student is accepted into a school of choice and we cannot stress enough the value of a strong grade point average. If grade point average in the classes that meet the "a-g" requirement is 3.0 or above, a student automatically meets the minimum eligibility requirements for the CSU, UC and some private colleges. If GPA is between 2.0 and 3.0, eligibility will also depend on ACT or SAT results in combination with GPA (see below).
Take any necessary tests
In addition to classes and grades, there may be additional tests to take as listed below. Youth will want to refer to admission requirements for the school he or she wants to attend for specific information.
Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test is an optional practice test designed to prepare for the mandatory college admissions test. Youth may want to think about taking the PSAT in October of sophomore year or maybe in the fall of junior year. Whatever the youth decides, they will want to start preparing for the SAT and the PSAT the summer before junior year.
Scholastic Assessment Test is a college admission exam measuring verbal and math reasoning, plus a standard written English test. Youth should register to take this test in their senior year.
American College Test is a college entrance exam covering: English, math, science and reading comprehension. Youth should register to take this test in their senior year.
Early Assessment Program is an academic preparation program to help 11th grade students meet college readiness standards in English and mathematics before admission to a CSU campus.
All California high school seniors are required to pass this test in order to receive a diploma.
Explore potential schools of interest
There are over 200 colleges in California alone! The student should look for colleges with strong academic programs that match his or her areas of interests and major if one has been chosen. A student may want to think about personal interests, extra curricular activities, housing and the surrounding city. Ask a high school counselor for ideas, take tours of schools, and read college catalogs. There are many helpful websites that review the college campuses in California and throughout the country, some of which are written by former students.
Many people choose colleges based on individual needs like costs, housing, education preparedness, location, chosen major and/or career interest. Below is an overview of the various degrees after high school and the college system in California.
Types of Degrees
- Associate's Degree - awarded by a community college and typically requires 2 years of full time study
- Bachelor's Degree - a 4 year college degree
- Master's Degree - a college degree beyond the Bachelor's, typically after two years of additional study
- Doctorate - an academic degree or professional degree that represents the highest level of formal study or research in a given field
Community or Junior Colleges
Community or junior colleges offer a degree after the completion of two years of full time study. They frequently offer technical programs that prepare a student for immediate entry into the job market. Also, students beginning a higher education at a community college in hopes of transferring to a university is becoming more common, as many do not prepare during high school or do not have the money to pay for higher education. As a precursor to college and university education, community college can save the student money and provide a transitional pathway to independent living.
- Admit all students who are 18 years or a high school graduate
- No admittance test required (there is a placement test to assess academic level)
- Offer an associates degree after the completion of two years of full time study
- Offer technical programs that prepare the student for immediate entry into the job market
- Offer coursework that applies toward a four year degree at State and UC colleges
- Usually no housing is available
- Offer financial aid
Examples of California Community Colleges
College of San Mateo, Canada College, Skyline College
Universities and Upper Division Schools
Generally, a university is bigger than a college and offers more majors, and research facilities. Class size often reflects institutional size and some classes may be taught by graduate students. Upper division schools offer the last two years of undergraduate study, usually in specialized programs leading to a bachelor's degree. You would generally transfer to an upper division college after completing an associate's degree or after finishing a second year of study at a four year college.
- Universities offer Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral and professional degrees
- Each campus has an academic focus or strength
- Must meet admission requirements
- College entrance tests required (ACT, SAT)
- On-campus housing is available at most schools
- Offer financial aid
Examples of California Public Universities
San Francisco State University, Cal State East Bay, San Jose State University, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz
Public vs. Private
On one hand, public colleges are usually less expensive, particularly for in-state residents. They receive most of their funding from the state or local government. Private colleges rely on tuition, fees, endowments, and other private sources. On the other hand, private colleges are usually smaller and can offer more personalized attention (and some believe more prestige).
- Offer Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate and professional degrees
- Each school is different and offers various learning environments
- Usually smaller and offer more personalized attention
- Check with the school you are interested in for information on entrance exams
- Offer financial aid
Examples of California Private Universities
Notre Dame de Namur, Stanford University
Specialized Colleges - Agricultural, Technical, and Specialized Colleges
Youth may be seeking new ways to increase their earning potential, or may want to explore different career options and a vocational school may be the answer. Before a student decides to select and apply to a vocational school, he or she should familiarize themselves with both the program they are interested in and the institution itself. Specialized colleges emphasize preparation for specific careers such as art, cosmetology, music, Bible, business, health science and more.
Examples of California Specialized Schools
Academy of Art in San Francisco, Heald College
Other Specialized Schools
- Liberal arts colleges: offer a broad base of courses in the humanities, social sciences and sciences. Most are private and focus mainly on undergraduate students. Classes tend to be small and personal attention is available.
- Single-sex: all four year public colleges and most private schools are co-ed. Although they may enroll a few members of the opposite sex, there are fewer than 100 colleges for only men and a similar amount for women.
- Religiously affiliated colleges: some private colleges are affiliated with a religious faith. The affiliation may be historic only or it may affect day-to-day student life.
- Historically black colleges: Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) have provided African-Americans higher education for more than a century. The U.S. Department of Education lists 106 HBCUs spanning 20 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. These schools offer students a unique opportunity to experience an educational community in which they're part of the majority.
- Hispanic-serving institutes: the Federal Government considers a college as "Hispanic-serving" if at least 25 percent of the total full-time undergraduate enrollment is made up of Hispanic students.
Each school is different so a student may want to make sure he or she understands the application process at each potential school. Most important, every student must respect all deadlines including those for any support documents and the applications for campus support programs like Educational Opportunity Program (EOP).
It may be helpful to make a list of potential schools and narrow that list down even further to the ones the student will apply for. The application process varies among the various colleges and each student must ensure that all the necessary applications and supporting documents are submitted on time. In addition to applying to the college, be sure to also apply to campus support programs, like EOPS and Foster Youth Support Programs (see College Success section).
Applying to a Community College
- Apply to the college - this is free and can be done online
- Complete an orientation (may be optional)
- Complete the placement tests - contact the Placement/Assessment Testing Center
- Meet with a counselor
- Register for classes - this can be done online
- Complete the financial aid paperwork - check the status of your financial aid and be sure to turn in all required paperwork
- Access any programs that are applicable (ex: EOPS, DSPS)
- Buy books for school (estimate $100/class)
Applying Directly to a University
While preparing for a four-year college, know that many of the universities may require the following:
- Application - students can usually apply online to a school of interest. The average application fee is around $35, however some are higher than others. Many colleges do offer fee waivers for low-income individuals.
- High School Transcript - the student must request this and the form is filled out by an official of the high school as an official transcript. As part of the application process, a student will have to request transcripts be sent to each of the schools he or she has applied to.
- Admissions Tests Scores - many 4 year universities require SAT, SAT Subject Test, or ACT test scores. These tests are a standard way of measuring a student's ability to do college-level work.
- Letters of Recommendations - many private colleges ask that a student submit one or more letters of recommendation from a teacher, counselor, or other adult who knows the student well.
- Personal Essay - some schools require a personal essay as part of the college application which also gives the potential student a chance to show the selection committee why he or she should be at their school. The essay should showcase personal strengths, academic success and include any extracurricular activities.
- Interview - some schools require or recommend this and foster youth may find it beneficial to seek help from their ILP educational advocate with interviewing skills, appropriate attire and pointers.
Most important: meet all deadlines for applications plus any documents like transcripts and payments of fees.
Please refer to the resources section for specific information on the college(s) of interest.
A typical application schedule for a California State University (CSU)
During senior year in high school:
- Early September: Register for the October SAT I or ACT. UCs require additional SAT or ACT testing, so taking the tests during junior year is the best idea.
- October-November: Apply online. The application deadline is November 30, unless otherwise noted. Submit an application fee waiver. Apply to a few local campuses. Complete an EOP application. A student should work with a counselor and/or education advocate. Foster youth may apply for foster youth program, if available at the school.
- January-March: Apply for financial aid (FAFSA, Cal Grant and Chafee). The deadline for priority is March 2 for the FAFSA and Cal Grant.
- March-May: Register for the CSU's placement exam (unless you are exempt), which is required prior to enrollment in the CSU. Submit housing application and fee.
- Late spring: Students taking Advanced Placement (AP) classes should take the AP exams. College credit can be earned for AP courses if a student scores well on the test(s).
STEP 4: Ways to help pay for college
Most former foster youth automatically qualify as independent students and can receive the maximum in free money for college. Foster youth may also qualify for additional grants including the Chafee educational training voucher and the Cal Grant. The student should work with an educational advocate and/or the financial aid office of the school for assistance with application for financial aid and any other college scholarships the student is eligible for.
For many, this is one of the biggest challenges to attending college. The good news is that there are many options to help pay for college. Emancipated foster youth and most former foster youth qualify as independent students, providing them with the maximum benefit of financial aid. For more detailed and specific information on financial aid, visit the sites listed under Financial Aid in the Foster Youth-Specific College Online Resources section below.
How much does college cost?
- Standard cost of attendance
- Educational Expense Chart*
- 2009-2010 Living on-campus (based on median costs)
Expense Community CSU UC Independent College Fees/Tuition $624** $4,827 $9,285 $30,144 Books/Supplies $1,566 $1,581 $1,500 $1,455 Room/Board $7,800*** $9,633 $12,600 $9,330 Miscellaneous $2,394 $3,535 $3,600 $3,218 TOTAL $12,384 >$19,576 $26,985 $45,147
**Estimate is for 12 units/semester
***Few community colleges have on-campus housing; actual cost varies based upon number of meals included
Applying for Financial Aid
There are 4 basic things students should do to receive money for college:
- The student must apply for Federal Financial Aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the school year in which they plan to attend. The FAFSA does need to be updated and submitted each year. We suggest it be completed sometime between January and March 2 of every year.
The FAFSA is the same form for every student, however there are a few questions that are specific to current or former foster youth. Listed below are some tips for completing the questions in step 3 of the FAFSA which determine if a student will need to provide parental information. The questions are numbered according to our most recent information about the FAFSA and included for convenience. The order of these questions may change on the application, but the information will be the same.
- At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
- The student should answer "Yes" if he or she had no living parent (biological or adoptive) at any time since he or she turned age 13 or older, even if the student is now adopted.
- Answer "Yes" if the student was in foster care at any time since she or he turned 13, even if the student is no longer in foster care as of today.
- Answer "Yes" if the student was a dependent or ward of the court at any time since he or she turned 13, even if the student is no longer a dependent or ward of the court as of today.
- Note that the financial aid administrator at the student's school may require the student to provide proof that he or she was in foster care or was a dependent/ward of the court.
- Are you, or were you an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
- Answer "Yes" if the student can provide a copy of a court's decision that as of today he or she is an emancipated minor.
- Also answer "Yes" if the student can provide a copy of a court's decision that he or she was an emancipated minor immediately before reaching the age of being an adult in his or her state. The court must be located in the student's state of legal residence at the time the court's decision was issued.
- Answer "No" if the student is still a minor and the court decision is no longer in effect or the court decision was not in effect at the time he or she became an adult.
- Note that the financial aid administrator at the student's college may require the student to provide proof that he or she was an emancipated minor.
- Are you or were you in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
- Answer "Yes" if the student can provide a copy of a court's decision that as of today the student is in legal guardianship.
- Also answer "Yes" if the student can provide a copy of a court's decision that he or she was in a legal guardianship immediately before reaching the age of being an adult in his or her state. The court must be located in the student's state of legal residence at the time the court's decision was issued.
- Answer "No" if the student is still a minor and the court decision is no longer in effect or the court decision was not in effect at the time the student became an adult.
- At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
- File a verified grade point average (GPA) form with the California Student Aid Commission no later than March 2 to receive a Cal Grant (State funds). Some high schools and colleges automatically file their students' verified GPAs with the Commission. Students should check with their school as to whether or not they will file. The student may instead have to complete a Cal Grant GPA Verification Form and have it certified by a school official then mailed as instructed on the form.
- Foster youth should complete the Chafee Application form after completing the FAFSA. The Chafee grant is specific to foster youth and can provide up to $5,000 a year in free money. The application takes about 2 minutes to complete.
- Follow up with the Financial Aid department to ensure that all financial aid verification forms are submitted at the school of choice.
Financial Aid Eligibility
In general, financial aid eligibility will depend upon various factors. These include income and assets, the number of people supported by the income, and the number of children in the family who are attending college.
Eligibility also depends on some additional factors. First, there are basic requirements that do not relate to a student’s financial need. To be eligible for most financial aid a student must:
- Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen [see the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for more detail].
- Be registered with Selective Service (if required).
- Be working toward a degree, certificate or eligible goal (such as transfer).
- Not owe a refund on a federal grant or be in default on a federal educational loan.
- Be a high school graduate or have the equivalent of a high school diploma (like a GED), or take a special test to show you have the ability to benefit from college education.
- Not have been convicted of drug possession or sales in the recent past (see the FAFSA for more detail or contact the education services advocate).
The aid that may be offered depends on when students apply, when a student responds to requests from the Financial Aid Office, and any types of special eligibility the student may meet, like being a former foster youth. To continue receiving financial aid, students will have to make progress towards their educational objectives while they are in college.
How Financial Need is Established
Financial need is based on the information provided on the FAFSA and determines how much “expected family contribution (EFC)” will be made to the cost of attending college for youth. Typically, emancipated foster youth and most former foster youth will automatically qualify as an independent student so their EFC will be zero and only their income will be considered in determining financial need. This will allow for the most financial aid benefit to be awarded up to the Cost of Attendance. Cost of Attendance is the total cost to attend a particular school and includes tuition, fees, books and supplies, transportation and room and board. Basically, financial need is calculated as follows:
Cost of Attendance (COA) minus Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Need
Types of Financial Aid Available
- Grants and Scholarships (do not need to be repaid)
- Work Study (earn money for school while working on campus)
- Loans (need to be repaid and you may need to qualify)
By completing the FAFSA students are eligible to receive the following financial aid. However, the amount each student will actually receive will depend on his or her cost to attend the school of choice, financial need, status as a full-time or part-time student, and his or her plans to attend school for a full academic year or less.
Federal Pell Grant
The maximum Pell Grant award for the 2009-10 award year is $5,350. For the 2010-11 award year the maximum award is $5,550.
This is a specific grant for emancipated and former foster youth. Students who qualify may receive up to $5,000 a year for career and technical training or college. For more information please refer to the California Chafee Grant for Foster Youth web site.
Financial aid given to low income individuals and may be applied toward college and vocational schools. Depending on the Cal Grant you receive, a student could receive up to $9,700 a year to pay for college expenses. There are various types of Cal Grants available. For a detailed description please refer to The California Student Aid Commission web site.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is free money for undergraduates with exceptional financial need and pays between $100 and $4,000 a year.
The Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) An Academic Competitiveness Grant provides $750 for the first year of study and $1,300 for the second year.
Colleges provide institutional grants to help make up the difference between college costs and what a family can be expected to contribute through income, savings, loans, and student earnings. Amounts will vary.
State University Grant (SUG)
Free money awarded based on financial need to cover at least the amount of the State University fee to eligible students who apply for financial aid by March 2, and who have an expected family contribution (EFC) of $800 or less, and who are not receiving a Cal Grant or other award designated to cover fees.
Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) Grant
Free money to economically and educationally disadvantaged undergraduates. Recipients must be California residents who are admitted to a CSU campus through the Educational Opportunity Program. EOP students may receive a grant, based on need, of up to $2,000 per year.
Board of Governors (BOG) Fee Waiver Application (Community College only)
The Board of Governors (BOG) Fee Waiver permits enrollment fees to be waived for eligible California residents attending a community college.
Scholarships are another form of free financial aid to help pay for college. Most scholarships are awarded upon the basis of academic achievement and some are offered for those who demonstrate financial need. Colleges, universities, and many public and private companies and organizations offer scholarships.
Beware of scholarship search scams! You should never pay anyone who promises to help you find scholarship opportunities. The scholarship search services they offer are usually found for free from educational websites and officials. For more information visit www.ftc.gov/scholarshipscams
Work-study allows the student to earn money to pay for their education through part-time jobs usually on school campus.
Loans, which must be repaid, are available from a variety of programs. For most youth attending community college this is usually not needed or recommended. We encourage youth to apply for scholarships and other grants to help pay all college costs. It is important to fully understand these loans and how they work. Students will want to work with their school and their education advocate closely if they are considering loans.
- Subsidized Stafford Loans – available to students who meet financial requirements and are attending school at least part time. With these loans, the government pays the interest from the time the student receives the loan money until up to six months after he or she leaves school.
- Unsubsidized Stafford Loans - available to any student regardless of financial need, but the student pays the interest while in school, and after leaving college.
- PLUS Loans – available to the parents of students attending college.
- Perkins Loans – administered by colleges and are for students with exceptional financial need.
Sample Financial Aid Award – Attending a California State University
Figures are approximate and based on maximum amounts.
Financial Need Total Cost of Attendance (Tuition, fees, housing) $20,000 Expected Family Contribution $0 Financial Need $20,000 Financial Aid Awards Federal Pell Grant $5,000 Federal SEOG $2,000 Cal Grant $4,000 Chafee Grant $5,000 Federal Work Study $3,000 Scholarships $1,000 TOTAL $20,000
Grades and Financial Aid
After starting to receive financial aid a student must maintain a certain grade point average to keep receiving financial aid in future semesters. If a student falls below this grade point average, they may be put on academic probation and not receive financial aid until their grades have improved.
There are many programs, staff and services on college campuses that provide assistance in order for their students to be successful with their education and in life. Some schools even offer specific programs designed for former foster youth which help with financial aid, life coaching, mentoring, housing, and offer personalized attention.
Academic Counselors and Staff
A drastic difference between college and high school is that youth must learn to advocate for themselves. We cannot stress enough the importance of students accessing counselors, tutors, and teachers throughout their college experience. Counselors can guide students to avoid certain pitfalls for new students, guide a student towards what classes to take, and give useful career advice and tips. Speaking to teachers gives a student insight on how they can succeed in a specific class. And lastly, many colleges have free tutors available, students should never wait until the last minute to ask for help.
Additional On-Campus Support Services and Programs
There are many programs and services on a college campus to provide youth with assistance so as to be successful at their school and in life. Listed below are just a few to become familiar with and learn about at the schools the student is applying for. Each offer benefits that can include paying for books, parking permits, tutoring, individual counseling, childcare grants, transfer services and many other educational support services.
- EOP – a program designed to assist low income and/or educationally disadvantaged students with admission, financial aid and academic support
- TRIO – a national program dedicated to assisting 1st generation college students, low-income and physically/learning disabled students
- CARE – A program designed to help single-parent students who are TANF or CalWorks recipients succeed in college
- Financial Aid Office – where to go to get assistance getting your financial aid
- School Counselors – advise you as to what classes to take to achieve goals. Provide information on support services
College Resources for Foster Youth
California Chafee Grant
If you are or were in foster care for at least one day, between the ages of 16 and 18 as a dependent or ward of the court and have financial need, you may qualify for up to $5,000 a year for career and technical training or college.
California College Pathways
These programs include peer advisors and personal counselors, and can provide academic advising, housing assistance, tutoring, mentoring, financial assistance, special accommodations for students with disabilities, counseling, social activities and many other resources.
Phone: (650) 802-5588
Rosanna Anderson, MSW, PPS
Foster Youth Services
Phone: (650) 598-2161
Fax: (650) 598-2191
Renee Vorrises, MSW, PPS
Foster Youth Services
Phone: (650) 598-2164