NCYL’s FosterEd Initiative has been awarded $250,000 by the Annie E Casey Foundation to support a multi-year evaluation of its Santa Cruz County pilot project. FosterEd works with state and local agencies to improve the educational outcomes of foster youth by ensuring each has at least one educational champion with the attributes of an actively engaged parent. Research has consistently found that students with actively engaged parents have higher GPAs and test scores, earn more class credits, pass more classes, have higher attendance, improved behavior at home and school, and better social skills. Studies have indentified the attributes of actively engaged parents as the most strongly correlated to educational success.
Foster children are taken from their families and placed in state custody because they have been abused or neglected. Without an adult supporting and championing their educational success, foster children all too frequently fall further and further behind in school, until many drop out. Not surprisingly, absent educational success, foster youth are ill-equipped to support themselves as adults. Former foster children suffer extremely high rates of homelessness, unemployment, and incarceration.
This grant will allow NCYL to successfully design and evaluate its Santa Cruz County project. The pilot will identify educational champions for every foster child in Santa Cruz County and provide individualized coaching to ensure each possesses the beliefs, capacities, and behaviors found in actively engaged parents. It will serve approximately 400 foster children, including every school-age foster child in Santa Cruz County, and serve as a pilot for the 60,000 foster children living in California.
This grant has allowed NCYL to contract with MPR Associates, an independent education research organization to assist with the evaluation.
NCYL has been awarded a $40,000 grant from Hedge Funds Care to address a problem that endangers the health and safety of abused and neglected children across the country: uncoordinated and unmonitored administration of powerful psychotropic medications, especially antipsychotic drugs.
A December 2011 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report revealed that tens of thousands of foster children of all ages are being medicated with psychotropic drugs in ways likely to harm them: high dosages, multiple prescriptions, and insufficient physician monitoring. The GAO found that foster children are prescribed psychotropic drugs at rates 2.7 to 4.5 times higher than non-foster children whose medical care is paid for by Medicaid. Such findings are confirmed by a study of 47 states, conducted at Tufts University, which found that only half of the states have any written policy or guidelines on psychotropic drug usage and that many of those policies are not comprehensive.
The present opportunity has been created by enactment, in late 2011, of the federal Fostering Innovations and Improvements in Child Welfare Act. One provision of this legislation directs the states to develop policies for appropriate use and oversight of psychotropic medications administered to foster children. The policies and procedures adopted in 2012-2013 will set the course for years to come.
Development of effective policies will require collaboration between agencies that typically have little interaction - child welfare and Medicaid. The voices of many others outside the official agencies – foster youth, foster parents, relative caregivers, Court Appointed Special Advocates - must be heard and inform those discussions. Without input from them and other non-government stakeholders, effective policies and effective implementation of policies are unlikely.
NCYL will organize an informal coalition of non-governmental organizations and a group of medical and scientific advisors to press for quality policies at the national and state level. A successful outcome will mean that state agencies will adopt meaningful policies—not just vague aspirations, which would be the path of least resistance, but real controls, genuine monitoring, and measurable outcomes.
NCYL has been awarded a $35,000 subgrant from the Rose Foundation to ensure that confidential access to sensitive health care services is preserved as health care reform is implemented in California. NCYL’s award is part of a two-year, $150,000 grant to the California Family Health Council (CFHC). The ACLU of Northern California will also be partnering on this important project.
Confidentiality is integral to the provision of services to teens and young adults. Lack of confidentiality in adolescent health care creates barriers to care that can result in disastrous health problems. It is also of particular importance to victims of domestic violence or reproductive coercion.
Currently, federal and state medical confidentiality laws allow insurance plans to share with policy holders otherwise confidential health information as part of the claims and billing process. Such disclosures are common. As just one example, insurance companies routinely send Explanation of Benefits forms to the policy holder, which often identify the patient who received care and the type of services accessed. This may include information on procedures, lab tests, and specialists seen. Partners, teens, young adults, and anyone enrolled in a health plan held in someone else’s name risk the disclosure of their sensitive medical information every time they use their insurance to access care.
This grant allows the California Family Health Council, NCYL, and the ACLU to develop policy recommendations to better safeguard medical privacy for consumers accessing sensitive services in California, train providers on how to ensure confidential access to services at their health centers, and educate consumers on how to access confidential health services, including sensitive services like sexual and reproductive health care.