Graduates raising their graduation caps in the air
Teens at Graduation

Foster Youth Academic Success on the Rise

Author: Social Services
Date: 10/7/2019 3:40:59 PM

Foster youth graduation rates in SLO County are nearly 20% higher than state average. Congratulations to this year's graduates!

Former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, is quoted as saying, “We should never view our challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for us to understand that our experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of our biggest advantages.” Nobody knows about overcoming adversity like our teens in the San Luis Obispo County foster care system. This past school year, there were 30 high school seniors who were in foster care and we are very proud to report that our youth graduation rates were 77% (23 students), a 3 % rise from last year and nearly 20 % higher than the state foster care graduation average. Of the remaining 23%, 6.5% are continuing with special education programs to work towards a certificate of completion and 6.5% are continuing to work on earning more credits.

Of the 23 high school graduates, 21 completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and many are planning to pursue post-secondary education. Our partner agency, Family Care Network, operates an Independent Living Program for youth who are or have been in the San Luis Obispo County foster care system. Their program had 33 high school graduates, of which 14 (42%) will be pursuing post-secondary education as well.

San Luis Obispo County is not only proud of its High School graduates, but also former foster youth who have graduated from post-secondary educational institutions. This past year we had four young adults attain vocational certificates, two received their associate’s degree, one received their bachelor’s degree, and one young adult entered the military.

Our agency strives to provide these youth with many opportunities for growth and development through a variety of programs and initiatives. The tenacity and spirit of these young adults, having faced the adversity and trauma that they have, are not only an inspiration to their families and the staff that support them, but also to other youth who all too often come from similar backgrounds and struggles in the foster care system. On average, when a child is placed in care or has to change placements while in care, they can lose up to 4-6 months of academic progress with each placement disruption. These disruptions occur with more frequency due to the lack of foster homes and the inability to place a youth in their community of origin because of this foster home deficiency. Despite all the trials and hardships these youth have faced, they have persevered and achieved academic success and we as an agency look forward to seeing their progress for years to come. Congratulations to our graduating class of 2019. May the road rise up to meet you and may you always seek out more of life than life lays at your feet!