Press Release

State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Rick Scott

David E. Wilkins

October 26, 2011

Partnership renews focus on academic success of foster children
~ DCF, Child and Family Connections, School District and other agencies identify specific goals. ~

The Department of Children and Families, Child and Family Connections Inc., the School District of Palm Beach County and the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County invite you to participate in "Everybody's a Teacher: Our Community RESPONDS."

This summit, to be held on Oct. 28, 2011, from 9 a.m. to noon at the South County Civic Center, will focus on how Palm Beach County RESPONDS to help children in licensed foster care or with relative caregivers:

  • Start school ready to learn
  • Graduate on time
  • Enjoy school stability
  • Avoid bureaucratic barriers.

Several agencies and organizations in Palm Beach County this summer signed an agreement to share information in an effort to ensure deserved educational opportunities are provided to the more than 850 children who are currently in out-of-home care. The Interagency Agreement is among the Florida Department of Children and Families, the School District of Palm Beach County, Child and Family Connections, Inc., the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities and the Agency for Workforce Innovation through the Early Learning Coalition and Workforce Development. As a result of the cooperative agreement, the agencies involved hope to provide an educational liaison to help children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned by their parents have a seamless transition between schools and to help prevent drop-out, truancy and disciplinary actions. The agreement also is aimed at ensuring that children in care who are progressing in school continue on a positive educational path.

Several goals were identified during an Education Summit in April, dedicated to finding real solutions to help children in care receive the best education and have seamless transitions.

The participants considered such questions as: When a child is removed from an unsafe home, who becomes that child’s primary decision-maker? Which adult provides consistent support? Will a child with disabilities who has been removed from an unsafe home be identified early, or only after failing a grade or acting out in class? After being removed from an unsafe home, will a child moving to a new school have to wait for admission? Will that child’s new teachers, guidance counselors and others be sensitive to the trauma faced by the child?

The participants were mindful that, with each move to a new school, a child adjusts to new teachers, new peers and new expectations, and has the potential for an academic setback – a loss of 4 to 6 months of educational progress. Such interrupted schooling can result in little participation in extracurricular activities, lost credits, a decline in academic skills, delayed academic progress, even repeating grades.

Come Friday to learn about the progress made by an extensive network of partners in Palm Beach County and the community's plans for continuing action.

For more information, contact Dwanne S. Clayton, Director of Operations, Child and Family Connections, (561) 414-9195.