How to help MCOE assist foster youth in Merced County

MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- In the North Valley, an office of education is providing a one-stop-shop for local foster youth, but they need more help.

At the Merced County Office of Education, foster youth services staff are doing much more than just checking up on grades.

"Any of the agencies that work with foster youth, this is the central hub," explained Foster Youth Services coordinator Daphne Post.

While all school districts are required to have a plan in place for foster youth, Merced County's Office of Education is the center of advocacy for foster youth and currently serves around 450 youth each year.

"They're moved around a lot, and they've had a lot of adults in their lives that have let them down," said educational liaison Sandra Stevens. "Every time they change school placements, it can put them back four to six months academically."

From day one, staff hit the ground running, making sure foster students and their new families have all the support they need to succeed.

"Foster families are doing a great thing, but many times they're overwhelmed by the types of challenges foster youth can bring," said Superintendent Steve Tietjen.

Right now, one of their biggest needs is educational advocates. That's a person who legally holds foster students education rights and makes education decisions.

"We only have one person in the county willing to do it and she's taxed," Stevens added.

The goal is to set these students on track for success and give them the resources needed.

"Our hearts go out to our students, so when we see that, it makes us so happy," Stevens said.

For details on how you can become an education advocate email Sstevens@mcoe.org.
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