by Alea Franklin
Education is very important amongst all foster children whether they are in foster homes, probation homes, group homes, or adoption homes. In foster homes, foster parents are expected to encourage and promote education throughout the home. However, some may question if group homes have the same expectations. Something else that comes up often in foster care is whether or not foster parents or group home care providers have to be educated. As of today, there are no education requirements above a high school diploma for group home staff.
Justin Harris lived in a group home for four months. Harris thinks group home staff should be educated because if they aren’t educated themselves then they will not be able to instill education within the youth they serve.
Before Harris was placed in the group home, he lived in an emergency foster home. Surprisingly, based on Harris’s experience, he felt more educationally supported during his temporary stay at the emergency placement.
According to Harris, education should definitely be enforced in group homes because “if staff don’t instill education into the youth’s brain no one will and then they will never get it. Plus, if it is not enforced RIGHT then the kids will go the WRONG way.”
Raylene Reyes, manager at Summerplace group home in San Bernadino County, Calif, says staff at the home are required to have a High school diploma or equivalent, plus 50 class units of Child Development and or 1 year of job experience in a residential treatment center.
“Education requirements for group home staff are very important, it shows that the people I’m hiring for my staff are prepared and know how to handle children that are emotional or mentally disturbed,” said Reyes.
Harris believes that while having a high school diploma is an accomplishment, group home staff should be required to have at least an associate’s degree in child development or social work.
“If I could do something differently for my children than the group home did for me to make sure they are successful in school, I would have meetings with counselors and teachers, discussing what’s happening in school with my children day to day. I would also keep an open line of communication between my kids and their teachers,” said Harris.
“Lastly, I would just always encourage them to do better.”