Helping Foster Kids in School: Therapeutic Foster Care’s Educational Advocate

The Problem: Statistics for foster children graduating high school are shockingly low. About 50% of foster kids never receive their high school diploma. Only 3% graduate from a 4-year college.

A&C’s response: To employ an Educational Advocate on the Therapeutic Foster Care team, addressing all educational concerns of our foster kids.

Sharon Dunlevy spends her days staying on top of students’ grades, attendance, educational concerns, and any behavioral issues they may be facing in school. She goes to meetings with teachers and principals, she helps implement and advocate for Individualized Education Plans & 504s, she teaches foster parents how to support the education of kids in their home. She tutors and facilitates tutoring.

Goals: “One of our biggest goals is to have our students be successful in school and graduate. We’re looking to see what types of support we can offer them after they graduate. At the age of 24, statistics say that 50% of former foster care students will be unemployed. So, that’s our big focus: career and college prep, really making sure that if they age out, if they leave, whatever the circumstances are, that they can be successful after school,” said Sharon. She is also a resource for foster parents with concerns on how to support their children’s education.

On what kids need most: “The need for the tutors is huge. Having a tutoring grant right now and having that outside help has been tremendous and makes a huge difference for the kids.”

Sharon’s Strategy: “I really try and get to know kids personally. … I want them to succeed, but I want them to come to that themselves. I really try to work with them on why we want them to get good grades. I ask what they want to do after school. I try to always make it a partnership between us.”