Foster youth are significantly more likely to experience unplanned school changes: in California, foster youth lose four to six months’ worth of learning time with every transfer. Compared to a statewide graduation rate of 85%, foster youth have a 58% graduation rate. They are more likely to be enrolled in the lowest-performing schools, have the lowest participation rate in state testing, and experience suspensions and expulsions at more than three times the rate of the rest of California’s students.
The Foster Education Project at Berkeley Law pairs law students with local foster youth in need of an educational advocate. Law students become the legal educational rights holders for a single child, ensuring the child receives an appropriate school placement, any services for disabilities or special needs, and the supports needed to succeed.
Law students can expect to learn about education and disability law, and to work with established attorneys in the field that will serve as mentors. Members get to practice a direct service approach to the law, utilizing communication, negotiation, and advocacy skills to make a real difference in a young child’s life.
Time Commitment: 30-40 hours/ semester
SOURCE: Vanessa X. Barrat & BethAnn Berliner. The Invisible Achievement Gap, Part 1: Education Outcomes of Students in Foster Care in California’s Public Schools (WestEd, 2013).
For more information, please contact the student leaders at FosterEd@berkeley.edu.