Provide early intervention representation to Alameda County foster youth ages 0-5 in special education, school discipline, and developmental services, ensuring they start school with the support they need.
Need Addressed by Project:
Foster youth have some of the worst educational outcomes of any student population. More than 75% of foster youth perform below grade level, 83% are held back by the third grade, and 46% do not complete high school. Research shows that high-quality early educational interventions are associated with long-lasting benefits for all children, but many foster youth are not able to access preschool programs due to developmental, behavioral or mental health needs. When these students are not successful in early childhood education, or are subject to discipline like suspension or expulsion, they are more likely to continue to get in trouble at school, and get lower test scores. They even have a higher likelihood of criminal justice involvement, a phenomenon known as the “preschool to prison pipeline.” By intervening earlier, stabilizing younger students in school, identifying potential developmental or special education needs, and connecting children to services, it is possible to prevent problems from worsening and improve academic outcomes for these youth.
Tori is the Right Person for this Project Because:
- In law school, Tori completed internships with a number of youth-serving legal organizations in the Bay Area.
- As the leader of the Foster Education Project at Berkeley Law, Tori trained other students to serve as educational rights holders for youth in foster care.
- In college, she volunteered teaching an early literacy curriculum in Head Start centers in Boston.
Plans for First Six Months of Tori’s Fellowship:
- Represent EBCLO clients in school discipline, special education or developmental services proceedings.
- Develop a school readiness plan for EBCLO clients and internal referral protocol for children’s attorneys and education team.
- Outreach to 10 local organizational partners to collect information about resources and gather an understanding of priority areas.
- Begin advocacy with the Social Services Agency on screening for developmental and early education needs and the reporting of these results to the juvenile court.