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Monday, October 5, 2015

Project CARES Scholars Continue to Make a Difference for Foster Youth

Dr. Tonika Duren Green was awarded a 1.25 million-dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs to improve outcomes for foster youth. 

The grant includes numerous services for the 24 trainees that received the opportunity to participate. CARES Scholars are trained as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) providing services for over 20 months (and counting), including serving as Educational Rights Holders. Along with attending monthly learning workshops and seminars, each CARES Scholar is placed in a high-needs school where each will provide services for children in the child welfare system with or at risk for disabilities.

Project CARES is an interdisciplinary collaborative study designed to recruit and prepare 24 students from underrepresented groups in school psychology, school counseling and school social work graduate programs as highly qualified Culturally Affirming and Responsive Education Specialists (CARES). CARES scholars receive training through interdisciplinary coursework and fieldwork experiences to incorporate current evidence-based practices that improve outcomes for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) children in foster care with disabilities and their families.

Since it’s inception, CARES trained ten scholars from CLD backgrounds with a passion for foster youth, with two trainees being former foster youth themselves. Seven of these scholars graduated May 2015 and are providing services to foster youth in schools across the nation.

In April 2015, CARES recruited seven additional scholars for the 2015-2017 grant years. In addition to the in-class work done with at-risk youth, the grant for the project details the development of a CARES website that houses resources and CARES Scholars originally published online children’ books for foster youth and cross-university collaborations.