Ill., December 2, 2004 - Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
(DCFS) Director Bryan Samuels announced a number of new initiatives and
partnerships to improve educational outcomes for Illinois children and
adolescents in out-of-home care in Chicago Public Schools. Samuels announced
initiatives in partnership with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Illinois
State Board of Education (ISBE). DCFS will work with the ISBE to improve
educational outcomes statewide.
a good parent, it's our responsibility to be sure that our youth have
every chance to be successful in school. We will now move forward in partnership
with the Chicago Public Schools, State Board of Education, and the community
at large to put education in the forefront of our priorities in child
welfare," said Samuels.
Director Mark Courtney joined Samuels for the announcement. Courtney served
as co-principal investigator for a recent study, "Educational Experiences
of Children in Out-of-Home Care." The study results clearly indicate
that many abused and neglected children placed in out-of-home care are
already behind academically from the time they enter care and remain at
risk for educational failure throughout their teen years. According to
the study, DCFS wards are twice as likely as other CPS students in the
same schools to be old for their grade and face heightened
risk for dropping out when compared with their non-ward peers.
trauma histories of these children prior to entering foster care, the
disruption of their educations occasioned by out-of-home placement, school
mobility, and poor communication between education and child welfare professionals
all contribute to a discouraging educational trajectory for many of these
children. This problem requires new approaches and better collaboration
between the child welfare and education systems," said Courtney,
who was also the co-principal investigator for the study.
Schools CEO Arne Duncan attended today's announcement to describe a series
of initiatives agreed upon with DCFS officials. "Thousands of our
students will benefit from this partnership with DCFS, and together we'll
make sure that we do everything we can to provide a stable and supportive
learning environment for these children."
Among the new initiatives with CPS, Samuels and Duncan announced an agreement
to maintain and support a child's school of origin when that child's placement
is disrupted and the child is temporarily placed in shelter care in the
City of Chicago. This effort could significantly improve a child's academic
and social experience while the child is transitioning to a new home.
Public Schools have also agreed to use literacy interventions for DCFS
youth in special education, and support that work with strong positive
behavior models. These specific interventions will proactively assist
children that have fallen below grade level because of trauma and mobility.
CPS will also expedite the enrollment and IEP (Individual Education Plan)
process for special education services for DCFS youth transitioning into
residential treatment centers in Chicago and will ensure that qualified
DCFS youth have access to tutoring supports funded by the No Child Left
and CPS have been working together this past year already on a number
of initiatives designed to support our youth, including efforts to enroll
every Chicago DCFS youth in Head Start and to increase the number of youth
attending the city's selective high schools. We appreciate the hard work
and focus CPS is putting on our youth, and we are sure it will pay off,"
initiatives announced by Samuels include the first-ever "education
passport" database which offers comprehensive student profiles to
ease school-to-school transition for youth in out-of-home care. These
passports will assist in academic planning for these students and outline
specific academic and behavioral needs of children and adolescents in
out-of-home care. Data collected from the passports will also help to
provide a complete picture of the academic and behavioral needs of youth
in out-of home-care for future planning by education and policy experts.
now, DCFS has never centrally tracked a youth's attendance, the history
of their schools of attendance, behavioral interventions and credits,"
said Samuels. "This effort, when complete, will give caseworkers,
foster families and schools the academic information they need to better
serve our youth."
Ruiz also announced that DCFS has directed the statewide Local Area Networks
(LANs) to re-focus their efforts on education outcomes for youth. With
this new direction, LANs will target the reduction of suspensions and
expulsions of children in care. An earlier Chapin Hall Center for Children
study showed that DCFS youth experience school expulsions at twice the
rate of their peers and suspensions at four times the rate of non-wards.
know how important education is to these youth," said ISBE Chairman
Jesse Ruiz. "That's why the State Board has committed significant
resources to this effort. More importantly, we look forward to working
with DCFS to find new creative, innovative ways to bring about great educational
outcomes and long-term success for these kids."
Community Trust was also represented and remains committed to working
collaboratively with state, local, and private entities to enhance life
outcomes for all Chicago-area children. The Trust, which has supported
DCFS programs, also helped establish and has consistently funded Chapin
Hall and its research on children at risk, and has routinely partnered
with Chicago Public Schools on enhancing educational opportunities for
local children as part of the Trust's five year, $50 million education
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Illinois Department of Children and Family Services