New Local Program to Tutor Children in Foster Care
Roughly 70 percent of school-age children in foster care have Individualized Education Plans (IEP), said Donna Brunet, Executive Director of CASA of Terrebonne. An IEP is a plan for a student with an identified disability to ensure they receive specialized instruction and related services, according to washington.edu.
Only 50 percent children in the foster system graduate from high school, and less than 3 percent graduate from college, Brunet also noted.
CASA of Terrebonne is starting a new program in the area to combat those bleak numbers.
“[Children in foster care] get left behind, and they kind of fall through the cracks. If there’s no one there to watch out for them, help them and keep them on track or to get them back on track, they are not on an even level with their peers,” Brunet said. “We want to step in to keep them at grade level.”
The Traveling Tutor Program, the first CASA program of its kind in Louisiana, will train individuals to tutor children in foster care.
“It just came about when we were looking at a lot of our kids in foster care, specifically one who failed fifth grade one time and was failing it a second time, and the foster parents weren’t helping,” Brunet said.
Brunet said she came across a traveling tutor program while looking at a New Jersey CASA’s website and decided to implement one here after learning more about it.
The program aims to offset the problems foster children can face, such as transferring schools.
“Depending on how many times they get moved around before they get a permanent placement, if they ever get a permanent placement, could determine the number of schools they go to,” Brunet said. “I had one girl who went to six high schools in three years. So, that’s really hard to keep up when you’re moving from high school to high school because every school is different.”
CASA is looking for tutors for all subjects and grade levels (first through 12th grade). Tutors must be at least 21 years old and be able to pass a comprehensive background check. They must also complete a three-hour training course if they aren’t already a CASA volunteer advocate. Traveling Tutors will be paid $25 an hour.
There are 49 local children in foster care who have a CASA volunteer and could possibly use a tutor, Brunet said.
“Right now, we have 139 children who are in foster care but do not have CASA volunteer,” she continued. “So, if we have enough tutors, we will branch out to those who are in foster care but don’t have a CASA volunteer on their case right now.”
The organization is currently unable to pay for mileage, but anyone willing to travel and tutor children in foster care outside of the Houma-Thibodaux area are welcomed to join as well, Brunet said.
“We’ll take as many [tutors] as we can get,” she said. “We might not utilize them all at the same time, but we’re trying to get them before the school year ends so we can maybe help some kids pass on to the next year or if they need tutoring over the summer.”
More information on Traveling Tutor can be found here.