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Los Angeles Unified leads the way on foster youth (5-21-19)

 Logo for Board Member Kelly Gonez


Contact: Shannon Haber (213) 241-6766


May 21, 2019                       

Los Angeles Unified leads the way on foster youth

Historic report will support improved outcomes


LOS ANGELES (May 21, 2019) -- Members of the Los Angeles Unified Board of Education voted today to produce the most comprehensive report in the state, designed to measure and improve outcomes of students living in foster care.

Board Member Kelly Gonez authored the resolution titled “Realizing the Continued Promise of Los Angeles Unified School District’s Foster Youth,” which will create a report including the enrollment size and mobility, academic growth and social emotional well-being of students living in foster care. Board President Mónica García, Board Vice President Nick Melvoin, Student Board Member Tyler Okeke and Board Members Scott M. Schmerelson, Dr. George J. McKenna III, and Jackie Goldberg co-sponsored the resolution.

“Los Angeles Unified serves the greatest number of foster youth in California,” said Board Member Gonez. “While the state does require we report on certain indicators specifically for foster youth, far too often we see our foster youth students’ mobility prohibiting their academic outcomes from being adequately reported. We have an obligation to take a comprehensive look at all factors contributing to the current and future success of our students in care: school stability, academic data and social emotional indicators.”

“While all our students are challenged to work hard and succeed, there are many who face the added pressures of moving frequently among homes and families,” Superintendent Austin Beutner said. “These students deserve our help to bridge any impediments they face on the road to success in their education and in life.”

The resolution further directs the superintendent to establish formal partnerships with higher education institutions to facilitate the transition of youth in foster care from K-12 education to colleges and universities.

The superintendent has also been asked to explore expansion of partnerships with Los Angeles County to ensure access to clinicians and mental health services on campuses, and to lobby for resources in Sacramento dedicated to addressing the needs of youth in foster care, including advocacy to develop funding sources to support unduplicated counts, such as flagging students more than once for multiple risk factors, when determining student support needs.

“I am proud to co-sponsor this important resolution because I want to ensure that our foster youth have stability in their education and school experience,” Board Member Scott M. Schmerelson said. “I know from my years as a teacher and an administrator that it is critical to make sure that our students in foster care, many of whom face unparalleled challenges in their young lives, have the targeted resources they need to meet their unique academic and social emotional needs.”

“We are committed to delivering on the promise that all means all,” Board President Mónica García said. “Our youth in foster care deserve the resources and attention necessary to succeed academically and emotionally. Thanks to Board Member Gonez for her advocacy, and we look forward to working with the county, city and the state to better outcomes for our students in foster care!”

“Our foster youth defy the odds every day,” Board Vice President Nick Melvoin said. “We at Los Angeles Unified must match their resolve to succeed by understanding their progress and continuing to provide them the services, resources and support they need to continue breaking barriers.”

“I join my colleagues in calling for more targeted services and support for our youth in foster care,” Board Member Dr. George J. McKenna III said. “The advocacy we provide by way of the Foster Youth Achievement Program and beyond ensures the continuity of educational delivery for all students.”

“I support all efforts that add stability for some of our most vulnerable students,” Board Member Jackie Goldberg said. “We must continue to support counselors and other adults who care for these students.”

“Youth in foster care are among our most vulnerable populations of children,” Board Member Dr. Richard Vladovic said. “We need to ensure they have the tools and resources to succeed.”