Many children and youth need extra support and services at some point during their time in school. Children in foster care, however, face a whole host of additional challenges at school. These challenges often stem from the trauma of being removed from their homes. In addition, children in foster care often switch schools multiple times due to changing foster care placements, and, as a result, they may experience gaps in their education.
In addition, young people in foster care must rely on their overburdened agencies to advocate for their needs, and they often do not receive these services in a timely manner. Many do not receive necessary evaluations for Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), and those who do often suffer from the improper implementation of these plans.
In 2008, Lawyers For Children launched the Education Advocacy Project in response to the deep and growing need for specialized advocacy for the educational needs of our clients. The project is directed by a social worker and an attorney who work together to provide targeted services that combine their expertise in New York City’s education system and education law with their background in foster care advocacy. In addition, LFC recently expanded the project to include LFC’s Skadden Legal Fellow, who is focused on addressing the disproportionate use of school suspension and explusion among youth in foster care.
The Education Advocacy Project team fights for the educational rights of individual clients in Family Court and in school hearings; connects clients to educational resources and services in the community; and consults with LFC’s entire professional staff to ensure they are equipped with the tools they need to advocate for all of our clients’ educational needs.