One of the most difficult processes a foster youth can go through is changing placements and schools.
When I was transitioning from seventh to eighth grade, it was extremely difficult to finish middle school due to several classes not being counted from the previous school I attended. During this time, I was transitioning from my second foster care placement in Norwalk, Calif., to my third placement out in Long Beach. My transcripts showed that I was missing classes for electives as well as a few core classes that I needed in order to be promoted to the ninth grade.
Because of the number of classes I was missing, counselors informed me that I might be held back a grade to catch up on those classes.
I had limited support during that time, and not having knowledge of how to transfer my transcripts from my previous school to my new school, I faced the very real possibility of repeating some classes that I had already taken.
Fortunately, my new foster mother helped me get those necessary records, and I was able to graduate on time. A lot of foster youth do not have access to records such as immunizations and transcripts—they don’t know their history of immunizations received or what classes they took and completed.
Sometimes foster youth transitioning to new high schools find that some elective and core classes they have previously taken are not offered at their new school, and are not counted as a result, or records of previous high school transcripts are not available and those youth are forced to retake classes that they previously completed.
The Educational Stability for Foster Youth Act was recently passed to address this exact issue. The act allows foster youth to remain at their current school without having to switch to another school due to city or county boundaries.
If I had not been in care, I believe my school experience would have been very stable. Had I been living with my biological family, I would not have had to abruptly switch schools, and I would have been able to complete middle school without stressing over the possibility of taking classes over again.
Educational stability is important for foster youth so that they can stay on track in their educational progress and maximize their potential for success. If foster youth switch from school to school, having to repeat classes or take additional classes, it becomes more difficult for them to get to where they want to be in life, and eventually they may give up on their educational goals.
Even though the Educational Stability for Foster Youth Act was not available to me when I was in foster care, I am extremely glad that youth currently in the foster care system are able to take advantage of this act.