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Educational Access Project for DCFS An Overview of a Partnership Between Northern Illinois University and the Illinois Department of Children and Family.

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Presentation on theme: "Educational Access Project for DCFS An Overview of a Partnership Between Northern Illinois University and the Illinois Department of Children and Family."— Presentation transcript:

1 Educational Access Project for DCFS An Overview of a Partnership Between Northern Illinois University and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

2 2 Purpose  To ensure academic success for every child who is, or has been in the care and custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Services, through a partnership of NIU and DCFS.

3 3 Strategies Employed  Staff with expertise in education as well as other relevant disciplines distributed in DCFS offices statewide  Activities that promote educational success for children who are in the care and custody of DCFS and who have been adopted or reside in subsidized guardianship  Systems intervention in both child welfare and education systems to promote success

4 4 Staff and their Distribution  2 FTE Education Advisors and 1 Assistant Advisor located in each DCFS region 3 advisors in Chicago and 3 in Cook suburbs Downstate advisors located in Rockford, Waukegan, East St. Louis, Murphysboro, Springfield, Champaign (.5) and Rock Island (.5)  Vocational Services staff located in DCFS central office in Cook County 1 vocational specialist and.5 coordinator  Director, assistant director and 2 support staff at NIU in DeKalb

5 5 Activities  Educational Access Project Staff Addressed over 3000 requests for technical assistance annually on educational issues Common requests include special education placement and services, discipline, enrollment, truancy, absenteeism, retention, academic achievement, dropout, college enrollment Requests originate from caseworkers, caregivers, schools, educational surrogates, court personnel and private agency education liaisons

6 6 Activities (2)  Develop training materials and provide regular training to DCFS and private agency child welfare, school and court staff Training and in-services on DCFS Educational Procedures, special education law, educational best practice for children who have been abused or neglected, etc. Circuit training in every region to train and update DCFS and POS workers and POS education liaisons, foster parents Opportunities for joint training of workers, caregivers and education liaisons Coordinated with DCFS training and 8 community colleges to provide curriculum and training for trainers for education advocacy for foster parents resulting in over 18,000 foster parents trained through October, 2002.

7 7 Activities (3)  Collaboration in order to foster communication between DCFS and school staff  Collaborate with entities and agencies who affect education of this population – DCFS divisions and boards, community and child welfare agencies, schools and school districts, early intervention providers and courts  Provide support for Illinois foster and adoptive parents, foster parent advisory councils, youth advisory boards and private agencies

8 8 Activities (4)  Implement strategies to ensure children have education plans by coordinating with Administrative Case Reviews (ACR), reviewing Unusual Incident Reports (UIR) and working with the DCFS liaison to the Department of Corrections (DOC) Monitor and track information from ACR feedback that identifies educational issues and intervene when education plans are not in place or issues still need resolution Review on an ongoing basis all UIRs regarding school suspensions or expulsions Communicate with child welfare and DOC staff about DCFS youth to assist with planning and coordinating their educational services when they enter and are expected to exit DOC and ensuring they receive services while incarcerated

9 9 Activities (5)  Develop tutoring and mentoring resources that caseworkers and caregivers use to access educational support for children  Review transition plans, develop community work training sites and participate in IEPs to advocate for appropriate transition services for youth  Review school programs and placements as requested by DCFS personnel such as the Director, Administrative Guardian, etc.

10 10 Activities (6)  Coordinate regional programs to promote literacy to include: Helping children get ready to read through working with caregivers to provide effective reading supports and encouraging enrollment in early childhood/intervention and preschool programs as eligible. Identifying children with reading problems. Helping to solve children’s reading problems through assisting in enrolling children in schools with the highest performing reading programs where school choice is available as well as helping to access tutorial services.

11 11 Activities (7)  Coordinate data collection and research such as the 2001 well-being study educational records review  Develop and implement a database for reporting purposes and collaborate with DCFS in developing the educational component of the automated information system  Analyze and report on educational outcomes  Refine and define policy for educational best practice as new educational law is enacted and new research emerges

12 12 Systems Intervention  A school review sets precedent for the DCFS Guardian to revoke permission for restraints in private day schools Education advisors responding by assisting in obtaining permission from the guardian’s office as well as supporting foster and surrogate parents in IEP meeting looking for alternative placement options.  Changes in the educational surrogate legislation and program Federal and state changes allow foster parents to act as parents for special education purposes Pending interagency agreement between ISBE and DCFS on the training and assignment of educational surrogate parents  Multiple legislations resulting in increasing dollars for school districts in the education of foster children

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