county boards
L.A. County Office of Education’s 2019 Homeless and Foster Education Symposium – Piecing it Together
The Los Angeles County Office of Education doesn’t just provide needed fiscal oversight to school districts across the county — its responsibilities and mission are much broader and encompass all the students in need across the county. Vulnerable students need results, and the education policy experts at LACOE help them achieve and succeed by providing comprehensive technical assistance and support strategies for 80 school districts and over 300 charter schools.

For instance, LACOE has been working very hard to meet the needs of its foster and homeless youth. Fully 38 percent of all children in foster care in California reside in Los Angeles County. The statistics on these vulnerable populations are disheartening: only 58 percent of young people in foster care graduate from high school; and 10 percent of the homeless populations in Los Angeles County is under 18.

In order to help these students achieve at their highest levels, their mental, emotional and physical well-being must be addressed. A stable school environment is essential, especially for homeless and foster youth. So, LACOE is building infrastructure to ensure that every school, in every single one of its districts, is equipped to identify and support struggling students and their families.

That’s why on May 23, LACOE brought together school district personnel and organizations that serve homeless youth and youth in foster care to collaborate on the significant and growing achievement gap for homeless youth and youth in the foster care system. It is evident that something has to change. The highlight of the event was a panel of six students who articulated how being homeless or in foster care had impacted their academic success and how everyone in the school system, as collaborative partners, could best support youth in achieving their goals. The youngest panelist was in sixth grade. She had been moved around so much that she missed half a year of school. She wanted to be in school. Her message was simple — make sure kids are going to school and make sure you’re following up.

There’s a lot more work to do. LACOE has established regional learning networks where its program specialist brings together 10-12 school districts that meet regularly to workshop specific topics and issues decided upon by consensus. Past topics have included: trauma-informed practices, data, accountability, enrollment, behavior and legislation. LACOE exists to help fix these problems and is proud to be a part of the solution. Since 2017, LACOE has convened its school districts and 300+ independent charter schools quarterly to collaborate on how best to serve foster youth and homeless students.

As the county office plans and prepares for the coming school year, LACOE continues to collaborate with districts and county departments to integrate these evidence-based practices that will help students and their families access the services they urgently need. L.A.’s students deserve nothing less.