In studies from around the country, students in foster care score woefully lower on all academic measures than their peers. Despite this, research has consistently shown that when the particular educational needs of foster youth are addressed through thoughtful policy and practice the resulting improvements in educational achievement for these students can be dramatic.
In 2011, much of Fostering Media Connections’ (FMC) work will center on highlighting policy and practice that improve educational outcomes for children experiencing foster care. A critical component of our outreach will be a handful of Town Hall meetings to be held in various locations throughout the country.
In May – National Foster Care Awareness Month — FMC will be holding three such events in New England: one at Western New England College in Springfield, MA on May 19th; another at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, MA on May 24th; and one more at Rhode Island College in Providence, RI on May 26th.
The format for the events is simple: a panel of leaders from education, child welfare and politics, as well as current or former foster youth will discuss where the Massachusetts and Rhode Island are in terms of providing educational stability and achievement for foster children and how that plays into the national education debate. Town Halls will be followed by hors d’oeuvres and a chance for guests to mingle. These will not be child welfare dominated events, rather a chance to bring the education community and others into the conversation. All events are open to the public.
The event on the 19th is being produced in collaboration with Western New England College and the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. Sponsors include the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation and the United Way of Pioneer Valley, along with media sponsor WWLP-22 News.
The moderated town hall will highlight how the problems affecting our public education system as a whole – student mobility, achievement gaps and heightened drop out rates– impact foster youth in particular. Panelists will then explore solutions, the feasibility of such solutions and their likely effect, not only on students in foster care, but on all students. Confirmed guests include Chris James Brown, President and CEO of the Child Welfare League of America; Gail Garinger, Child Advocate for the Commonwealth; Russell Johnston, West Springfield Superintendent of Schools; and Lisa Famularo, Research Director at the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy among others.
Please register for the event here: http://fosteringmediaconnections.org/resources/town-hallsevents/on-the-road-to-educational-equality-town-hall-event-may-19/
At Harvard [Law School], FMC is partnering with the Law School’s Child Advocacy Program; the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute and the Participant Foundation (the production company behind the acclaimed film “WAITING FOR SUPERMAN”) to create a high level conversation of these important issues. Confirmed guests include: Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester; Gail Garinger, Child Advocate for the Commonwealth; Dean Martha Minow, Harvard Law School; former foster child, actress and best-selling author Victoria Rowell; and former foster youth Lily Dorman Colby among others.
On the 26th we will be take the message of educational equality for all children to providence during a town hall being produced in partnership with the Rhode Island College School of Social Work and the Rhode Island Foster Parents Association. Confirmed participants include: Lisa Guillette, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Foster Parents Association, Tonya Glantz, Interim Director of The Rhode Island College School of Social Work’s Child Welfare Institute; and Rhode Island Representative Eileen S. Naughton among others.
Please join us if you can. If not please spread the word and talk to your local media outlets about the importance of levelling the educational playing field for all students.
-The FMC Team
Fostering Media Connections is a project of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. FMC harnesses the power of journalism and media to drive public and political will behind policy and practice that improve outcomes for children experiencing foster care.