October 2, 2012 8:00 am ·
On Friday, Senator Mark DeSaulnier announced that Senate Bill 1568 has been signed by the Governor. SB 1568 allows former foster youth to stay in their existing high school when they move out of the foster care system and are reunified with their family.
“Many foster youth find themselves moving in and out of foster care. This bill will allow those youth to avoid moving from school to school to school during their critical high school years,” said DeSaulnier. “Foster children are our most vulnerable population, and we should do everything we can to at least create some consistency in their education. By permitting former foster youth to remain in their current schools, SB 1568 will relieve a major impediment to their scholastic success.”
SB 1568 will also help to steady the high school experience of former foster youth who re-enter the foster care system after a failed reunification. According to a UC Berkeley study, 11.8 percent of reunited foster youths return to foster care within one year. Currently, it is conceivable that a former foster youth will have to change schools three times during this process: once when first entering the foster care system, once again when reunified with their biological parents, and then a third time if the youth re-enters the system. Even if the youth transfers schools just once, research shows that the damage done to his or her education is substantial.
Foster youth in high school forge a powerful support network of friends, teachers, coaches, and other adult advocates critical to scholastic success. If the biological parent with whom the youth is reunited lives outside the school district that the student attended prior to reunification, the now former foster youth will be forced to needlessly change high schools, shattering that crucial support network, and threatening his or her ability to graduate on time.