by Bonita Tindle
Juliet Velarde has been in foster care for 18 years. She has experienced struggles with multiple placements, moving homes a total of 15 times.
“Being in multiple placements has affected my achievement in school,” said Velarde, a senior at Thurgood Marshall High School in San Francisco. “It made me sad about education. I thought I was going to fail. I almost dropped out.”
Juliet Velarde is among thousands of foster youth that experience difficulties in school because of unstable placements.
According to the National Working Group on Foster Care and Education, multiple placements during the life of a foster youth can impact overall school proficiency. Multiple placements can effect the number of days a foster child attends school. Change in homes usually means a change in school. More than half of foster children experience a change in schools when entering foster care.
The National Working Group on Foster Care and Education (NWGFCE) is a partnership of twelve organizations that work together to ensure successful educational outcomes for foster youth around the country.
The NWGFCE works to prove academic success is doable for foster youth like Juliet Velarde, a participant in the Guardian Scholars Program (GSP) at City College of San Francisco (CCSF). GSP is a program that serves former foster youth are pursuing their undergraduate degree. Velarde wants to follow her dream and enter college despite the obstacles while being a foster youth.
Velarde says her boyfriend helped her stay in school.
“He told me that if I dropped out I couldn’t reach my dreams. He said I wouldn’t become anything.”
Velarde now has a 2.0 GPA and is striving to go San Francisco State University where she wants to be trained as a nurse.
According to the National Working Group, foster youth are less likely to enroll in college if they have many placements.
Education is a foster youth’s gateway to the world. “Success in school can be a positive counterweight to the abuse, neglect, separation, and impermanence experienced by 400,000 foster youth,” stated the National Working group on Foster Care and Education in a report. Problems in education can be marked as obstacles to success for foster youth leading them down a negative path, the opposite of what needs to be accomplished.
Velarde want to stay down the positive path.
“Regardless of all the different schools, regardless of all the different homes, I know that college can help me reach my dreams of becoming a nurse. Any foster youth can go to college, they just have to hang in there,” said Velarde.