In California alone, nearly 100 times a day a child is placed in foster care. And most will remain in the system for years. What's worse, the dropout rate for foster children is three times higher than other low-income students.
We provide extra support for our nearly 500 foster care and 1,800 homeless student population, said Caprice Young, national superintendent of Learn4Life's 80+ schools and who grew up with foster brothers and sisters herself. Our students tend to have behavioral issues, evidence of trauma and are in need of basic services. They are also bright, creative and resilient. Most of our public schools simply are not equipped to handle foster teens. We are.
All of our schools have an on-site counselor who acts as a foster liaison, working with other members of the student's support team to provide wrap around services. A multi-tiered support includes the basics of safety, food, clothing, transportation and financial aid options. Their education program is customized to their needs, infused with trauma-informed practices and enriched with experiences like field trips, job training and mentoring.
One success story is Otani, who spent her childhood in group and foster homes with the odds against her. Severally neglected as a child, she was abandoned by her mother at age seven and placed in foster care. By 17 she had a baby and soon dropped out of high school. And then she found Learn4Life. Not only did she graduate high school but she did so with honors and was the commencement speaker at her graduation. Last year Otani earned her MBA with a specialization in international business from National University.