Keeping students in school and on track
This fall, Anisa heads back to the same school she attended last year. Not a big deal for most eighth graders, but a novelty for this 14-year-old who’s thrilled to be seeing old friends and familiar halls after enduring a series of schools during six years in the foster care system.
“You make these connections and then you’re gone,” says the Beaumont Middle School student, adding that she never stayed in one place long enough to make deep friendships or lasting connections with teachers. “A lot of times I didn’t even get to say goodbye.”
Now living in a stable home in the custody of relatives, Anisa attends Beaumont, her neighborhood school, with the help of JRP’s Schoolworks Program, which provides legal assistance and educational support for students in similar situations. A main program goal is for students to attend their neighborhood school as a way to minimize disruption in their lives. Studies show that students lose three to four months of academic progress with each school transfer.
“It was frustrating changing schools,” says Anisa, who wants to join the Navy or Coast guard after high school. “Schoolworks has helped me to be more stable and I don’t get behind.”
Schoolworks supports the academic success of students through a “wrap-around” approach that includes coordinating services with mental health providers, foster care case managers and Court Appointed Special Advocates.
For Anisa and her family, Schoolworks attorney Lynn Haxton helped them navigate through education bureaucracy and legal red tape to ensure the teen was receiving the help she needed.
“Lynn’s been a good cushion for us,” says Anisa’s step-aunt. “She’s been an ally and a resource. She’s reduced the stress not just for Anisa, but for our whole family.”