Due to encouraging results from the Education Champion Project (see below for more details) and the high need of other young people in the county, the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) is now working with Santa Clara County Office of Education, San Jose Unified School District, East Side Union High School District, Gilroy Unified School District, Legal Advocates for Children and Youth, the Santa Clara County Probation Department and the Santa Clara County Superior Court to build a FosterEd demonstration site to benefit youth experiencing Probation. Through this demonstration site, NCYL will incorporate all components of the FosterEd practice framework and will serve formal wards of Probation and youth on Deferred Entry of Judgment status. Santa Clara County is the first demonstration site in which NCYL staff will solely serve the needs of youth experiencing Probation.
Between 2015 and 2018, NCYL assisted county partners in designing and implementing the Education Champion Project, which incorporated some core features of the FosterEd framework – the identification and mentorship of Education Champions, and the creation of customized education plans. A legal services organization, Legal Advocates for Children and Youth (LACY), coordinated the project in close partnership with the juvenile court and the Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY) Mentor Program. From its inception, approximately 100 youth were served through this small pilot project, and data indicated that the majority of students improved their attendance (or maintained attendance, for those students who already had perfect attendance). Data also showed that the majority of students accomplished at least one critical education goal in their customized education plans. Common goals included reevaluation of students’ Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and enrollment in appropriate schools, since many students are not attending school suited to their IEPs. This data was particularly promising given the short period during which these students work with the Education Champion Project – typically 3-6 months.