By Gregg McQueen
It’s a first for foster students.
The New York City Department of Education (DOE) is set to create its first-ever division of staffers devoted to serving the needs of students in foster care.
The DOE is planning to hire a team of eight central office employees who will help create policy for students in foster care and offer support to schools for dealing with the emotional, logistical and legal challenges of these children.
Approximately 7,000 foster-care children are currently in the city’s public school system.
According to DOE statistics, about 20 percent of kids in foster care end up repeating a grade, compared with 6 percent of students citywide, while nearly half of kids in foster care have a learning disability.
The DOE is aiming to hire half of the new staff by the end of January, with the rest in place by the end of June, according to published reports.
The team is likely to include a policy director, a data analyst and six on-the-ground “foster care support coordinators.” These staffers will serve as a point of contact for schools, families and child welfare professionals with questions about students in foster care.
They will also be responsible for training school staff on the rights of these students and their families, including biological parents, as well as tracking to improve academic outcomes.