Educational Experiences of Children and Youth in the Child Welfare System

Educational Experiences of Children and Youth in the Child Welfare System

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On any given day in the U.S., more than 400,000 children and youth are involved in the child welfare system.  And while the goals of this system are to find safe, permanent homes and to reunify families, many children and youth spend years in the system, moving from placement to placement and school to school. Compared to peers who are not system-involved, these young people are less likely to have a high school diploma, less likely to earn a living wage, and more likely to become involved in the juvenile or criminal justice systems.  Research has shown, however, that success in school can be a positive counterweight to the abuse, neglect, separation, and impermanence experienced by these children and youth.

NDTAC’s first event in the N&D InFocus series, Educational Experiences of Children and Youth in the Child Welfare System (Video), examined the educational experiences of children and youth involved with the child welfare system and highlight the work of systems around the country striving to foster better educational outcomes for these young people. From Hawaii to Rhode Island, we took a closer look at those making a difference in the lives of this vulnerable population.


Meet Our Guests

Kelly A. Stern is the State Educational Specialist for School Based Behavioral Health at the Hawaii Department of Education. She has been working in Hawaii with children, youth, young adults and families for over 20 years. More…She has taught all grade levels of school, including university courses, has been a school-based therapist and clinician, and now works in administration to improve systems for children and families, especially those at risk.  Her current position is State Educational Specialist for School Based Behavioral Health (SBBH) where she applies her training, consulting and creative problem solving skills to smooth the way through our state systems to ensure that students social, emotional and behavioral needs are met, especially when it impacts their learning or the learning of others. 
Dr. Lorri Bolton is a School Based Behavioral Health Clinical Psychologist in the Ka’u Complex on the Island of Hawaii for the Hawaii Department of Education.

Dr. Bernie Jarman is a School Based Behavioral Health Psychologist in the Kea’au Complex on the Island of Hawaii for the Hawaii Department of Education. 

Shawn Slater is the Clinical Supervisor for Behavioral Health Services in the Pahoa Complex on the Island of Hawaii for the Hawaii Department of Education.

Donnel Nunes is a licensed mental health counselor and school-based behavioral health program director for Intensive Learning Centers in the Windham Complex on the Island of Oahu in the Hawaii Department of Education. More…In addition to his work with the Department, Donnel is an educational psychology doctoral student and adjunct faculty member at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. His doctoral research focuses on parents who act as mentors to their adult children. His goal is to find ways to empower families to use mentoring strategies to build better relationships and futures for both parents and their children. He has presented at numerous conferences and published academic papers on topics related to behavioral health, education, assistive technology, and mentoring.

Dr. Tonya Glantz currently serves as the Interim Director of the Child Welfare Institute at Rhode Island College. She has been working in the field of child welfare for over 23 years. More…She holds a Doctorate in Education and Master's Degree in Social Work. Her research interests include exploring school success for students in the foster care system and strategies for creating collaboration between public schools and child welfare systems. Over the course of career, Tonya has focused her efforts on training child welfare and human service staff on issues related to strength-based practice, fatherhood and cross-system collaboration. Tonya’s professional experiences include curriculum development, training of child welfare and human service staff. She has also served as presenter at local and national conferences. Tonya is an adjunct professor at both Rhode Island and Providence College, where she teaches in the social work and early childhood education programs.

Melinda Gushwa is an Assistant Professor at the Rhode Island College School of Social work. She has over 20 years of practice experience in the areas of public child welfare, psychotherapy, mental health case management, medical social work, training, research and education. Her research interests center on child welfare workforce issues and ethics in social work practice.

Trisha Molloy is a Supervisor at the Rhode Island Department of Children Youth and Families.

Roberta Emery is in her 27th year of teaching in the Central Falls School District, located Rhode Island. She began her career as a special education teacher, a role she held for 18 years, and is currently a kindergarten teacher. Roberta’s experience covers teaching preschool through sixth grade as well as serving as an instructional coach in a district-wide K-1 math program for three years. She holds a BS, a M.Ed, and a certificate in Elementary Math Specialist. Roberta has also served as a foster parent, providing regular respite care placements for 16 youth over a ten-year period.

Dr. Lois Weinberg is a Professor of Special Education at California State University Los Angeles. Dr. Weinberg joined the CSULA faculty in 2002 in the Mild to Moderate Disability Program. Since 2005, she has directed the Joint Doctoral Program in Special Education between CSULA and UCLA and received two federal grants to support students in the program. Her primary areas of expertise are special education law and policy, the education of children in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, and systemic change in institutions serving children with disabilities. Dr. Weinberg has published over fifty books, articles, and monographs and made numerous presentations across the country on these topics For the last 15 years, she has worked on grant-funded initiatives in California to improve education outcomes for children in foster care. Prior to coming to CSULA, she was an Education Specialist at Mental Health Advocacy Services, Inc., a private nonprofit law office that represents poor and low-income individuals with disabilities.

Event Date

Wed, 01/29/2014 - 2:00PM EST