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Monday, October 10, 2016

Project CARES Scholars Present at National Conference for Foster Youth

CARES presented at the 2016 Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) National Conference
Scholars from Project CARES gave two presentations at the National Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association’s Conference in Maryland this past summer.

Project CARES (Culturally Affirming Responsive Education Specialist) is addressing the need for school professionals who work together to improve outcomes for culturally and linguistically diverse children with disabilities who are in foster care. The Project trains scholars as educational advocates who are culturally affirming, collaborative and skilled in prevention and intervention services to reduce achievement gaps, improve school stability, and improve the quality of special education services for students with disabilities. 

Jessie Krier from the College of Education’s School Psychology Program and Caitlin Flewelling and Kaitlyn Armstrong, both from the School Social Work Program presented on “How to Be an Effective Advocate for Foster Youth with Individualized Education Programs.” Dr. Tonika Duren Green, director of the College of Education’s School Psychology Program, was one of the presenters of "The Pipeline to College Access and Graduation Success for Foster Youth,” which provided evidence-based practices to improve the pipeline for college for foster youth from preschool to high school. 

“Our experience presenting at the CASA Conference was important because it allowed us to develop our skills as professionals while developing the skills of those willing to advocate for a population in need,” said Armstrong. 

The National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association, together with its state and local member programs, supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy so every abused or neglected child in the United States can be safe, have a permanent place to live and the opportunity to succeed.

Foster youth are one of our most vulnerable and at-risk populations. When a student in foster care also has a disability, the risk of dropout, grade retention, homelessness, juvenile delinquency, and untreated mental health needs increases even further. 

“Many educators do not understand the unique needs of foster children with disabilities and how we can meet these needs,” added Krier. “It was important for us to share our information about foster youth with Individualized Education Programs to increase attendees' abilities to support these youth. Hopefully, attendees can take this information back to their organizations and districts and use it to support foster youth with disabilities in more effective and efficient ways.”

Flewelling indicated being able to present at National CASA was “an incredible opportunity.”
“There is so little research and resources available to assist advocates working with foster youth with disabilities. It was a good opportunity to compile both our professional knowledge and the knowledge we are all acquiring through our higher education to help educate others about some of the resources available to better assist this population,” Flewelling said. 

More information about the program can be found by visiting the Project CARES website.