The Chronicle : L.A. Turns to Religious Communities to Help with Foster Home Shortage and Racial Disparities
As Los Angeles County struggles to maintain enough foster homes to house the youth in its care, county leaders are looking to the faith community to better support the child welfare system.
The Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved two separate plans for the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to collaborate with faith-based organizations to aid in recruiting new foster parents and provide community-based supports like visitation monitoring, respite care and mentorship for both youth and parents.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl was supportive of both motions but expressed trepidation about how LGBTQ foster youth would be treated by faith communities as they begin to work more closely with the child welfare system, citing a recent study that found 19 percent of foster youth in LA County self-identify as LGBTQ.
Kuehl recalled fighting for legislation to protect LGBTQ children when she served as a state legislator. "The strongest opposition came from churches," she said.
Jeanette Mann of All Saints Church in Pasadena abandoned the prepared remarks she had plannedto deliver during her allotted speaking time, but instead addressed Kuehl's concern, vowing that her church has "been at the forefront of welcoming LGBTQ people." Rev. Oliver Buie with Holman United Methodist Church echoed that sentiment.
Through its Project Foster Care ministry, All Saints' Church has recruited 140 volunteers, who serve as mentors, coaches and other sources of support for more than 1,000 youth involved in the county's foster care system. For example, its Family Connect Pasadena program trains and recruits volunteers to monitor visits between biological parents and their kids while the children are placed in foster care.
"Most of all, I think the members of the faith-based community will benefit from the experience they have when they touch the lives these children," Mann said.Both motions instruct participants to provide the board with a progress report in six months.
Pasadena Now : County to Develop Centralized Resource HUB for Transitional Age Foster Youth
The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion by Supervisor Kathryn Barger to create an online Centralized Transitional Age Youth (TAY) Hub to provide vital access to programs and services to youth, caregivers, social workers and advocates.
The proposed online Centralized Transitional Age Foster Youth Hub will improve the county’s ability to serve Transitional Age Youth as they age out of the foster care system by helping them connect to education, career and housing resources.
Pasadena Star : Grand Jury findings on foster students
The Los Angeles County Grand Jury, in its year-end report, criticized local school districts and the state for not doing enough to help narrow the achievement gap between the general student population and foster children.
Pasadena Star : Are schools failing foster kids?
Are schools failing foster kids?
A grand jury report says yes, criticizing a handful of districts for doing too little; officials defend their programs but also say there is more to do.
The Chronicle of Social Change : California’s Funding Formula Tries to Close the Achievement Gap for Disadvantaged Youth. But How is the Money Spent?
California Governor Jerry Brown’s budget includes full funding for a state program meant to boost support for foster youth and other vulnerable populations in schools. But advocates are criticizing the program for its lack of expenditure tracking and transparency on how schools spend the state’s money.
The state’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCCF), created in 2013, aims to boost the achievement of disadvantaged students by increasing funding to schools that have more students from low-income families, English language learners and foster youth.
Since 2013, the state has allocated $17 billion in additional funding to schools through this formula. Brown’s proposal would fully fund the formula for the first time by allocating an additional $3 billion in the fiscal year 2018-19.
Advocates who support the concept of the formula say there has been a lack of transparency around these funds and their usage.
LA Times : L.A. Unified is flush with new money. But how are they actually spending it?
New state money earmarked for Los Angeles' disadvantaged students has been used in some promising ways so far, according to a new study out of UC Berkeley. But the study also finds that L.A. Unified School District has given its elementary school students the short end of the funding stick — and above all, it points to the need for more transparency in how the dollars are being spent.
Children Now : 2018 California Children's Report Card
As the 2018 California Children’s Report Card shows, the vast majority of our state’s children face extraordinary challenges to reaching their full potential. Yet, the success of California’s economy and civil society ultimately depends on policies that
tear down these barriers and give all kids access to the quality support they need to succeed—from quality, affordable child care to a rigorous education to health coverage to safety. Public policy change is the fastest and most efficient way to scale innovative, high-impact programs, and secure the
needed resources and reforms.
The Chronicle of Social Change : Sheila Kuehl Charts Path for Nation’s Largest Child Welfare System
As the current chair of Los Angeles County’s Board of Supervisors, Sheila Kuehl is in a prominent position to shape child welfare policy that will not only have an impact in L.A., but nationally.
With more than 10 million residents, the county is larger than all but eight states. Accordingly, with nearly 35,000 children served by the county’s Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), L.A. is home to the largest child welfare system in the nation.
In December, the board welcomed a new director to DCFS, Bobby Cagle, who had most recently run Georgia’s foster care system.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Chronicle of Social Change, Kuehl — the first openly gay speaker of the California State Senate, a long-time advocate for the rights of women and girls, and a prolific voice for the needs of children and families caught up in the child welfare system — reflected on what new leadership means to L.A. and the nation.
Journal of Adolescent Health : Groundbreaking Study Finds 4.2 Million Youth Experience Homelessness over a 12 Month Period
Researchers from Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago have produced the first-ever nationally representative analysis of the number of homeless youth age 13 to 25 in the United States. According to their paper, published in the January 2018 edition of Journal of Adolescent Health and summarized in a policy brief, a total of 660,000 youth aged 13 to 17 and 3.48 million young adults aged 18 to 25 experienced homelessness over a 12-month period.
This figure is far higher than the 2016 Point-in-Time Estimate of Homelessness, which identified of 3,916 homeless 13 to 17 year-olds and 41,662 homeless 18 to 24 year-olds. The authors attribute this significant difference to the fact that their analysis measured the prevalence over 12 months and used a population-based sampling approach that enabled better identification of homelessness among this age group.
In addition to an overall total, the analysis found that certain youth were more likely than others to experience homelessness. Those without a high school diploma had a 346% higher risk than their peers who completed high school, while unmarried parenting youth had a 200% higher risk of reporting homelessness. Other at-risk groups included youth who identified as LGBT (120% greater), Black or African American youth (83% greater), Hispanic, non-White youth (33% greater) and youth reporting annual household income of less than $24,000 (162% greater).
The prevalence of youth homelessness comes at an important time, as Senator Scott Wiener introduces Senate Bill 918, which would establish the Office of Homeless Youth and allocate $60 million annually to develop a range of housing solutions. The legislation is sponsored by the California Coalition for Youth, the Corporation for Supportive Housing, Equality California, Housing California, John Burton Advocates for Youth, and Tipping Point.
Pasadena Star : Only 3% of former foster children graduate college. Here’s how universities are working to change that
A former foster youth who had aged out of the system, Luisjuan beat the odds and earned a college degree with the help of CSUSB’s Renaissance Scholars program. Cal State and University of California campuses offer such programs across the state. They provide former foster youths with educational support, peer support, counseling, housing assistance, financial support and even food.
Pasadena Now : Pasadena’s Journey House Celebrates Education Policy Win for Former Foster Youth
Pasadena’s Journey House celebrated their legislative victory of 2017, passage of Assemblymember Holden’s Assembly Bill 1567, with local stakeholders, advocates, and former foster youth. Journey House sponsored the legislation that automatically notifies foster youth and former foster you of the services they qualify for upon acceptance at a California Community College or California State University. The new law is anticipated to improve higher education outcomes for former foster youth.
LA Times : At temporary L.A. County shelters, some foster kids just keep cycling through
Inside a small dorm on a neatly manicured campus in La Verne, two teenage girls were flitting between rooms.
One adjusted a tight-fitting tank top over her chest and checked her reflection in the mirror. The other danced to Bruno Mars’ “That’s What I Like” as it played from a cellphone.
The teens were getting ready to run away from a temporary shelter for foster youths.
Just before 9:30 p.m. they broke into a run and headed for the campus entrance. A security guard and another staff member followed.
“Why’re you getting so close? Just stay right there, please,” the younger one begged the guard as he caught up. “My ride’s coming.”
A few minutes later, a silver pickup truck pulled over. The girls quickly got inside and took off. A staff member called the police.
Left, A.M., a 17-year-old, walks outside at the David and Margaret transitional shelter. She has stayed at the facility several times. Right, A.M. paints her nails in a common area. She has been alternating between the streets, foster homes, group homes and shelter with friends. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
It’s a scene that recurs regularly at the David and Margaret Youth and Family Services transitional shelter care facility in La Verne.
The girls are among 4,200 young people who have stayed in such a facility since March 2016. That is when L.A. County shut down its emergency “welcome centers,” where foster children with nowhere else to go could stay for a day or less, and opened three-day shelters run by private providers.
Some kids are entering the foster system for the first time. For those, the 72-hour facilities generally serve as intended — a temporary stop on the way to a longer-term home.
But many have cycled in and out of foster placements for years, sometimes getting kicked out, “AWOLing,” or landing in jail in between. Some have histories of substance abuse, mental illness or sex work. Others are pregnant or have children of their own.
“These are kids who have been in the system a long time [and] usually have lots of issues,” said Michael Nash, the former presiding judge of L.A. County’s Juvenile Court. “It’s sort of unrealistic to think … we’re going to put them into a transitional shelter for 72 hours and figure out how to stabilize them and figure out a placement where we have confidence that they’re going to stay.”
Pasadena Star : Young and homeless in America: Survey says the problem is worsening
More than 4 percent of adolescents and 10 percent of young adults nationwide were living on the street, in cars or shelters, or couch-surfing at some point in the last year, according to a sweeping study by the University of Chicago released last week.
The study, “Missed Opportunities: Youth Homelessness in America,” was based on random phone surveys of 26,000 young people ages 13 to 25, and represents one of the most accurate, wide-ranging overviews ever conducted of homeless youth, a group whose numbers have long eluded researchers, educators and social workers, homeless advocates said.
The Chronicle of Social Change : Ride-Sharing Company Will Get L.A. Foster Kids to School
HopSkipDrive, a child-focused ride-sharing company, announced a partnership with Los Angeles County’s Office of Education (LACOE) to transport foster youth to school.
Moving at what one official called a “fast and furious” pace to rectify its failure to complywith foster care mandates enshrined in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), LACOE has contracted with the L.A.-based tech company to give foster kids rides to their so-called “school of origin” through the end of the school year.
The Education Trust-West : The Majority Report: Supporting the Success of Latino Students in California
“The Majority Report: Supporting the Educational Success of Latino Students in California” provides an extensive look at how the state’s largest ethnic group is faring at every level of California’s education system. The report finds that while the over 3 million Latino students in K-12 schools are the majority of California’s 6.2 million K-12 population, and nearly 1 million Latino students are in California’s public colleges and universities, these students continue to face troubling inequities from early learning through higher education. California’s Latino students:
Attend the nation’s most segregated schools;
Are often tracked away from college-preparatory coursework;
Are sometimes perceived as less academically capable than their White or Asian peers; and
Have insufficient access to early childhood education;
Are less likely to feel connected to their school environment;
Are more likely to be required to take remedial courses at colleges and universities.
The study also highlights bright spots throughout the state where promising practices are helping Latino students advance academically, dispelling the myth that these gaps cannot be closed, and reiterating the need for more action and urgency from state leaders.
Educational Results Partnership : ACCELERATING SUCCESS: Turning Insights into Action for Foster Youth at California Community Colleges
This current report is intended primarily to provide
local college staff, faculty and administrators with data
to better understand foster youth performance and
how to better support foster youth outcomes. The
findings also provide insights for improving policies
locally and statewide to help remove barriers to foster
youth success in completing college.
Pasadena Now : Five Acres Campaigns, Digitally, to Raise Awareness for Foster Care, Adoption
Five Acres has launched a digital campaign to raise awareness for foster care and adoption in Los Angeles and surrounding counties.
The Five Acres Trust Fall Challenge invites friends, families, co-workers, businesses, community organizations and more to film and share their own trust fall videos online with the hashtags #fall4fiveacres and #20kby2020. The challenge symbolizes the agency’s key message: that every child belongs in the arms of a safe, loving and permanent family.
LA Times : Gov. Jerry Brown signs legislation to ease punishment, criminal fines for juvenile offenders
Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed nine bills to aid young people facing charges and serving time, a victory for a statewide coalition of criminal justice groups that brought together celebrities and former youth offenders in a push to divert children from a path to prison.
The new laws will increase parole opportunities and ease punishment for people who committed crimes as children or teens. They will allow courts to seal certain juvenile records and limit the administrative fees that counties charge families with children in juvenile detention.
Pasadena Star : Pasadena church opens Rosebud cafe to give jobs to youths, homeless
There’s a new cafe in east Pasadena that hopes not only to sling good coffee, but to promote a good cause, too.
The newly opened Rosebud Cafe will exclusively hire formerly homeless people and youths transitioning out of the foster system. The cafe is an the expansion of a training program started by Rose City Church that used a coffee cart to teach at-risk youths how to become baristas.