Published : Thursday, September 8, 2016 | 5:10 PM
At its meeting on August 25, 2016, the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) Board of Education approved the establishment of the Foster Youth Guardians/Parents and Advocates Council (FYGPAC) to assist in the academic success of foster students in the district. The purpose of the council is to improve the overall functioning of students and to facilitate their educational experience by addressing their academic, emotional, and behavioral needs.
“The Council brings together the internal and external resources of our community to support children at the most vulnerable times in their lives,” said Eric Sahakian, Executive Director of Child Welfare, Attendance and Safety, who is leading the district’s foster youth services. “With strong collaboration between partners and service agencies, we are better equipped to support foster youth through this time in their lives and to prepare them to be successful.”
During the 2015-2016 academic year, there were over 640 foster care youth enrolled in PUSD, with an average of 400 foster students enrolled at any point in time.
Services available for foster youth in 2015-2016 included:
• Project YES (Youth Educational Supports), an academic and social/emotional program at Eliot Middle School and Wilson Middle School
• Foster youth sensitivity training for district employees on trauma endured by foster youth
• Foster youth community liaison position added to assess foster youth students for academic, attendance, and behavioral needs via an Individualized Success Plan
• Two pilot Resource Centers for foster youth added at Eliot Middle School and John Muir High School in partnership with PCC and All Saint’s Church Foster Care Project
• Two Intervention Specialists added to launch the Mentors for L.I.F.E. program for middle school students, including foster youth, and provide individual support for attendance and behavioral challenges
The Council, which consists of guardians/parents, students, community advocates, professionals affiliated with foster youth group homes, district staff, and Pasadena City College staff, has a developed a five-point work plan for improvement, ranging from trauma-informed care for delivery of mental health services; improving the transition from special education to mainstream; training of staff; and improved information about and access to district services and programs.
The Council will meet monthly at Pasadena City College and serve as a resource for guardians and parents of foster youth to get involved and to obtain information about district services for foster youth. FYGPAC meets on the third Thursday of every month from 12 – 1:30 p.m. in Bungalow 5 on the Foothill Campus of Pasadena City College (formerly known as CEC), 3035 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena.
FYGPAC is supported by the PUSD Office of Child Welfare, Attendance and Safety. For more information, visit gopusd.com/cwas.