In 1981, the Legislature recognized that a high percentage of foster youth were working substantially below grade level, were being retained at least one year at the same grade level, and were becoming school dropouts. In response, the Legislature declared that the instruction, counseling, tutoring, and provision of related services for foster youth be a state priority and mandated the Foster Youth Services (FYS) Core District (CD) Programs through California Education Code sections 42920–42925. There are six FYS CD Programs that provide services to all foster youth attending schools in each of those districts. (See Appendix H of the report for a list of the FYS Program sites.) The Budget Act of 2006 expanded services, originally only targeting foster youth living in Licensed Children’s Institutions (LCIs), to include foster youth residing in Foster Homes, Foster Family Agencies, Court Specified Placements and Juvenile Detention (JD) Facilities.
The goals of the FYS CD, Countywide (CW), and JD Programs are to (1) identify the educational, physical, social, and emotional needs of foster youth; (2) determine gaps in service provision and provide educational and social support services, either through direct service provision or referral to collaborative partners; (3) identify inadequacies in the completion and timely transfer of health and education records to facilitate appropriate and stable care and educational placements; (4) improve student academic achievement, reduce incidence of juvenile delinquency, and reduce rates of student truancy/dropouts; and (5) provide advocacy to promote the best interests of foster youth throughout California.
Outcome data for the FYS CD Programs shows that 74 percent of foster youth served in school year 2008–09 gained more than one month of academic growth per month of tutoring received. Therefore, the target population objective of 60 percent was surpassed by 14 percent. The high school completion data collected indicates that 71 percent of eligible twelfth graders received a high school diploma, passed the General Education Development Test, the California High School Proficiency Exam, or received a certificate of completion. In addition, only 0.69 percent of foster youth served through FYS CD Programs were expelled, surpassing the target rate of 5 percent, and the foster youth student attendance rate reached 96 percent, exceeding the target attendance rate of 90 percent.
In their 2008–09 year-end reports to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the FYS Programs reported substantial progress in establishing local advisory groups and in developing effective collaborative networks for service provision. The FYS Programs believe that they have had an impact on the educational achievement and social success of foster youth in their communities. Recommendations provided by the FYS Programs include (1) continue the existing FYS Programs and provide adequate funding to support the programs; (2) develop a statewide database for collecting and sharing health and education information and outcome data on foster youth; and (3) expand the FYS CW Programs to provide services to all foster youth and provide additional funding to support an expansion of services.