Foster youth: How to thrive in school
The “Solving Schools” issue of Represent underscores the futility of “one-size-fits-all” education.
The young writers describe the challenges of going to school while dealing with the fallout of foster care, which includes exhaustion, distraction, hopelessness, anger, and fear. (These often carry diagnostic labels including PTSD, ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder, depression, and anxiety, but it may be more useful to look at what the person’s been through.)
Selena Garcia was bright and curious, but full of rage because she was being abused. She would likely have been pushed out of school had her foster mom not advocated to get her into the right school and an IEP.
D. Perry had trouble taking tests and got her school to provide her with a tutor and educational supports.
Chris Lee describes the personalized education plan and help from caring counselors and other school staff that made graduation possible for him.
None of these determined students got there by falling in line or getting with the program. That simply didn’t work for them. Instead, they took advantage of flexible and creative education approaches. Many of these, tailored to what a child has been through, fall under the umbrella of trauma-informed care, which makes perfect sense for foster youth. We hope you will share these stories with special education teachers, students or anyone else who could use the youth perspective on how everyone can thrive in school.