Published: December 19th, 2018

Silver Bells & Silver Linings

As one could imagine, the task of ensuring school stability for students in foster care can be daunting!

The silver lining of this tumultuous journey is the amazing amount of teamwork, collaboration, and support found within the community of organizations that aim to see a successful future for students in foster care. There are many talented people, throughout our State, that are working to see that students in foster care receive the federally legislated provisions prescribed in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Local educational agencies (LEAs) & the child welfare agency bear the brunt of the burden of school stability for students in foster care, transportation to school of origin, and when in the best interest of the student, immediate enrollment to a new school. Many community organizations can assist in these efforts.



This blog post is a guest entry provided by the Director of the First Star ASU Academy, Gabriela Jimenez. First Star ASU Academy is an organization that is a long-term college preparatory program for high school youth in foster care to enhance college readiness in academics, life skills and personal development, while facilitating students’ self-discovery through monthly workshops and summer immersion programming at ASU.


First Star ASU Academy is now accepting applications! Click here to recommend a student & apply.

First Star ASU partners with the Department of Child Safety (DCS), attorneys and legal representatives, community agencies and foundations, schools, and social workers to create a comprehensive experience using a three-pronged approach.


First Star ASU keeps all participating youth on track for high school graduation and a successful transition to higher education through ACT & SAT prep, core academic instruction, and personalized success plans.


Life Skills

First Star ASU ensures participants learn how to balance physical and psychosocial health while developing skills in career preparation, leadership, and self-advocacy.


Caregiver Engagement

First Star ASU ensures caregivers understand the needs of foster youth and equips them with resources necessary to support their academic achievements.


Key elements of the program:

  • 3-week residential summer program for the participants
  • Year-round engagement with monthly academies and service projects
  • 4-year support Academics, life skills, college readiness, and caretaker engagement
  • Scholars are eligible to stay in the program even if placement status changes (An open case with DCS or Tribal social services at the time of application is required)
  • 100% free of charge to scholars and their families
  • Students can participate from any geographic area, no restrictions

We are reaching out to individuals with relationships to foster parents, caretakers, teachers, school counselors, caseworkers, and community organizations that might have contact with youth in foster care. We are looking to support 15-20 youth in-care that can benefit from the program. Our goal is to have as much time as possible with them to provide continued support during high school and their transition to higher education.

Here are some upcoming dates related to the program: 

First Star ASU Open House and Resource Fair

February 9, 2019. 1 pm to 3 pm, ASU Polytechnic (Cooley)

Residential summer program (ASU Polytechnic)

June 9 to June 29, 2019


Visit First Star ASU Academy for additional materials or to request an information session. You may contact the First Star ASU Academy Director Gaby Jimenez at (480)727-0677 or email [email protected].





As always, if you or someone from your organization, would like to highlight a success story from a student in foster care or promote a needed resource, please email [email protected].


Posted in News |
Published: November 26th, 2018

The Sunny Side of the Street


One of the immense benefits of this work is to watch talented school staff support our students.  With every post, a siren is sounded for educational success stories of children in foster care. What follows is the tale of a student (A.B.) and Desert Mountain School in Deer Valley Unified School District.


The foster care provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) state that children in foster care have the right to remain in the school they were attending before entering foster care, or in this case, the school they were attending before a placement change (school of origin).  Even though, ESSA presumes that the best scenario for a child in foster care is to keep that school stability, the law also states that if it is in the best interest of a child in foster care to attend a new school, that new school school would have to immediately enroll that student, even without necessary paperwork.


Like most children in foster care, A.B. has had quite the wild ride. A.B. used to live in the far SE region of the Valley, but recently, has been placed in the far NW region of the Valley. After a thorough best interest determination process, it was decided that it is in the best interest of A.B. to attend a new school.


For undisclosed reasons, school is a very tense & stressful place for A.B. Many of A.B.’s most challenging behaviors occur during the school day. This process is unfortunately not new for A.B. So with much courage & resilience, A.B. embarked upon the journey of attending another new school, Desert Mountain School.


Per the law, Desert Mountain School immediately enrolled A.B. into school. On the first day of attendance, when A.B. stepped foot on campus, A.B. tried to run away. Instead of exacerbating this behavior, the school staff calmly corralled A.B. to safety. A.B. had plenty of time to cool down and regulate an elevated emotional state. Children in foster care statistically, have a higher rate of school suspensions, which lead to the loss of precious classroom time. Desert Mountain School was able to avoid such an outcome for A.B.


Under the leadership of the Principal, Nurse, School Psychologist, School Counselor, Special Education Strategist, Assistant Principal, and Speech Pathologist, the school’s commitment to understanding A.B.’s past trauma has lead to Desert Mountain School becoming a safe place to A.B.; where A.B. can start to learn, grow, and thrive. A.B. is being supported by the school in multiple ways. A.B. has a special pass to go to the library or see any of the previously mentioned caring adults on campus, whenever A.B. feels overwhelmed in class. The school has enlisted A.B.’s personal behavior coach to assist A.B. while on campus. Additionally, the Speech Pathologist has been willing to rearrange their schedule on several occasions to assist A.B. in times of stress. Even without the availability of all the resources that Desert Mountain School would like to employ, A.B. is slowing starting to integrate into the full school experience.


This story is far from complete. A.B. will probably require much more patience, support, and empathy to continue a path towards a successful educational future. While A.B.’s trauma is still preventing her from fully participating in class, the school is creating a support plan to transition her into the learning environment. With the help of Desert Mountain School, A.B. is well on the way.


As always, if you have any stories of educational success of children in foster care, please email them to [email protected]


Posted in News |
Published: October 15th, 2018

Fill Out The FAFSA Fast

Fall has finally come upon us, bringing with it, many gifts.

Short, breezy days. Long, playoff baseball nights. And everyone’s favorite, the opening of the FAFSA.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) became available on October 1st. Children in foster care have several post-secondary supports in Arizona, many of which require the student to fill out the FAFSA. Completing such forms can prove to be an anxious, panic inducing experience.

The YAchiever’s WIOA Youth program & Glendale Community College are teaming up to help alleviate these concerns with a FAFSA party for youth in foster care.

The event details are:

October 20th, 2018


Glendale Community College

6000 W Olive Ave, Glendale, AZ, 85302



10:00am-11:15– Financial Aid Workshop (students will receive assistance with completing their FAFSA)

11:15am-11:45am– Angel Glad (Foster Care To Success; operates the Educational Tuition Voucher) speaking about additional post-secondary financial support for children in foster care.

11:45am-12:45pm– GCC FY Champions will present on the supports in place on campus for youth in foster care.

***Breakfast & Lunch will be provided.

To register contact:

Elena Reid Steinbeiss

p. 602.703.4114

e. [email protected]


As always, please feel free to email any success stories of children in foster care at school or any upcoming events to support the education of children in foster care.

Posted in News |
Published: August 1st, 2018

Kick The School Year Off With Some Professional Development!!

2018-2019 Foster Care Training Fall Schedule




Anyone vested in the education of children in foster care. The target audience includes Local Education Liaisons, School & District Administrators, Grant Writers, Enrollment Personnel, Counselors, Social Workers, and Agency Caseworkers.




The Arizona Department of Education’s Foster Care Education Coordinator will offer these FREE trainings for the 2018-2019 school year:


  • ESSA Foster Care Essentials – August 7th, 14, & 21st (See table below for specifics)
    • This 1.5 hr session is an orientation to Foster Care & Education as legislated by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015. It covers key points of the federal legislation and responsibilities of the local educational agency and the LEA Foster Care Point of Contact. All LEAs are required to comply with this Act.


  • ESSA Foster Care Topical Training – August 7th, 14, & 21st (See table)
    • This 1.5 hr session will separately tackle topics relevant to Foster Care Education such as School of Origin, School Stability, ALEAT, and Collaboration with the child welfare agency.


  • Local Regional Day Conferences – September 11th. 13th, 19th 26th, 28th
    • This is a 1-day combined McKinney Vento & Foster Care training. Registration will be available early-August in the EMS System.


When? Where?


See the training schedule on the following page.

*********Please REGISTER on the ADE Event Management System at:*********



(Registration closes 1 business day prior to the training)

Date Time Location Focus of Training
08/07/18 11:30 AM ADE Jefferson Office

1535 West Jefferson St

Rm. B2

Phoenix, AZ 85007

ESSA Foster Care Essentials


08/07/18 3:30 PM ADE Jefferson Office

1535 West Jefferson St

Rm. B2

Phoenix, AZ 85007

ESSA Foster Care Topical Training: School of Origin/Immediate Enrollment
08/14/18 9:00 AM ADE Jefferson Office

1535 West Jefferson St

Rm. B2

Phoenix, AZ 85007

ESSA Foster Care Essentials


08/14/18 3:30 PM ADE Jefferson Office

1535 West Jefferson St

Rm. B2

Phoenix, AZ 85007

ESSA Foster Care Topical Training: Transportation


08/21/18 11:30 AM ADE Jefferson Office

1535 West Jefferson St

Rm. 311

Phoenix, AZ 85007

ESSA Foster Care Essentials


08/21/18 3:30 PM ADE Jefferson Office

1535 West Jefferson St

Rm. 311

Phoenix, AZ 85007


ESSA Foster Care Topical Training: Title I Compliance (ALEAT)


08/24/18 11:30 AM Washington Elementary

4650 W Sweetwater Ave Glendale, AZ 85304

ESSA Foster Care Essentials


08/31/18 11:30 AM Sunnyside Unified School

2238 E. Ginter Rd.

Tucson, AZ 85706

ESSA Foster Care Essentials


Posted in News |
Published: July 11th, 2018

Summertime Survey Spectacular!!

Hopefully the summer has brought much fun, relaxation, and rest!

As we prepare to serve the wonderful students of Arizona, I want to take some time to do some quality assurance.

Here is a survey link to help us at ADE better understand how children in foster care being served at the LEA level. Please take the 5 minutes to complete this survey. Your candid, thorough, response will better equip ADE to provide a more robust support for the upcoming school year.

Enjoy your summer!!

Posted in News |
Published: June 13th, 2018

Protect The ID of Children in Foster Care

An unpleasant but, necessary topic that needs to be addressed is identity theft. Children in foster care find themselves especially vulnerable to identity theft & various other ills that take place in the digital space. 

This blog post is a guest post by B. Scott. Scott is a cybersecurity and fraud detection specialist. In light of National Foster Care Awareness Month celebrated in May, he has been working to raise awareness of cybercrimes and educate individuals on how to better protect the digital lives and identification information of children in foster care.

Defending Children in the Digital Landscape

Did you know that roughly 61% of children in foster care nationally are removed from homes due to neglect? Imagine being young again, with an abundance of information at your disposal, countless platforms on which you can speak, and a world of people to listen and communicate with at your fingertips, and not having the guidance you need to utilize it all correctly.

Whether it be through cyberbullying or cyberstalking, school-aged children can do serious damage to their classmates’ reputations, self-esteem, and overall well-being.

Among the affected are new students and foster youth, who may feel isolated or excluded from friendships with other students. With more than 437,000 youth in the foster care system nationwide as of 2016, and the state of Arizona contributing about 18,000 to that number, it is imperative to make sure all students feel safe and welcomed.

Raising awareness for youth in foster care, as well as encouraging positive behaviors for students in schools, can help to minimize issues that can have long-term effects, such as dropouts, physical harm, mental abuse, and financial theft. By making both children and adults aware of the gravity of the decisions that are made on the Internet, we are contributing to an environment where students can thrive.

Bullying and Cyberbullying

Even with the ESSA foster care provisions, children in foster care may find themselves attending a new school. New students are among the most frequent bullying victims. Cyberbullying poses different dangers that can be lasting. With constant connectivity and permanence of actions, this form of bullying can be archived and damaging to victims.

In order to protect students, it is important to teach them proper online and real-life etiquette. Let children know what information is private, and the consequences that may be associated with revealing personal content. Though we, as adults, should be mindful of the concerns the Internet poses, it is also important to regard the Internet as a place for young minds to learn, explore, grow, and connect.









Bullies and cybercriminals can use cyberstalking to monitor or track locations, access cameras and computer documents, and spread rumors to destroy an individual or group’s reputation. Stalking is a serious concern that can easily happen to children in foster care, regardless of the frequency of changing housing arrangements.

Children in foster care leave a documented trail of previous locations and housing, some more lengthy than others, making them a target for cyberstalking and other crimes. Guardians should communicate with their children about the information they share online and be mindful of how it can be used. Reference the green graphic above to find out more about cyberstalking.


Child Identity Theft

Child identity theft is one of the most secretive of cybercrimes. Not only can it be difficult to prevent, but children often don’t realize they have fallen victim until they reach adulthood. The New York Post reported that 1 million children had their identities stolen in 2017, more than half who were younger than 8 years old.

Youth in the foster care system are at a particularly high risk for these situations. Identity theft in foster care frequently occur during foster transitional periods when guardians lose or misuse child social security numbers. This information can be used to file fraudulent tax returns, open credit card accounts, or even obtaining government benefits. Though it can be hard to detect once it transpires, following basic steps to protect sensitive information and being proactive could help to save a child’s identity and future before it happens. You can find more information about identity theft and how to help prevent it here.

Author: B. Scott


As always, if you or someone from your organization, would like to highlight a success story from a student in foster care or promote a needed resource, please email [email protected].


Posted in News |
Published: May 24th, 2018

National Foster Care Awareness Month Share-Outs & Shout-Outs

It is not too late to make a difference during National Foster Care Awareness month!! Children in foster care still need your time, talent, and tenacity to endure this season in their lives. Below are a couple of share-outs:

The Arizona Department of Child Safety has released a video detailing a typical experience for a child in foster care.

#LoveUp has put out a video highlighting their work & some of the children who are still searching for stability.

If you want to make an impact for a child in foster care consider–


We find ourselves a few weeks removed from the Awareness Through Art event. After a time to breathe & gear up for another scorching summer, some shout-outs are in order. The student artwork showcase to raise awareness for foster care was a gigantic undertaking which required many entities working together.

Special shout-outs go to:

Songbird Coffee & Tea House. Songbird co-hosted our event with great ease & hospitality. Roosevelt Community Church. Roosevelt is a pillar in the community & graciously co-hosted our event. Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane M. Douglas. Supt. Douglas personally reviewed every piece of artwork & chose 5 submissions to give special recognition.
FosterdEd. FosterEd supports youth in care as they accomplish their academic goals. Arizona Department of Child Safety. DCS works tirelessly to ensure that these children in care are safely placed, their families receive services, and walk with older youth as they reach the age of majority. Voices for CASA Children. Voices supports court appointed special advocates who are selected to champion the needs of children in foster care.
Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation. AFFCF simply funds fun for children in foster care! Helen’s Hope Chest. Helen’s supplies clothing for children in foster care for FREE!!! Advocacy 31Nine. Advocacy 31Nine is an organization that aims to help those in the cross-section of foster care & special needs education.
Art of Forgiveness. Art of Forgiveness works with youth to teach forgiveness, self-empowerment, & also provides opportunity scholarships/experiences to youth. Fostering Advocates Arizona. Fostering Advocates Arizona is a wing of the Children’s Action Alliance & provides many resources to those in foster care. Peoria Unified School District. Peoria USD supported the event by provided easels.
Mercy Hill Church. Mercy Hill runs an essential food bank in the heart of downtown Phoenix & provided drinks for the event. Azukar Coffee. Azukar provided shade for our event with their tent.


As always, if you or your organization have any stories highlighting educational success for children in foster care, please send them to [email protected]

Posted in News |
Published: May 9th, 2018

Art Showcase Raises Awareness of Foster Care Education

The Foster Care Education program proudly concluded the K-6th Grade Student Artwork Foster Care Awareness Showcase with a successful show on May 4, 2018, as part of Phoenix’s monthly First Friday art walk.

Almost 200 elementary school students from all over Arizona submitted artwork designed around the Foster Care Education program’s logo, which features the words Hope, Strength, Resilience, and Learning. Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas selected for award four pieces that she found to be the most inspiring, but expressed her admiration for all of the artwork.

Superintendent Douglas First Friday Showcase
1st Place Winner
2nd Place Winner
3rd Place Winner
4th Place Winner
Posted in News |
Published: April 30th, 2018

Awareness Through Art — First Friday Event This Week!!!

The Awareness Through Art K-6th grade student artwork foster care awareness showcase is almost here!

May 4th, 2018


Spread across two locations in downtown Phoenix:

Songbird Coffee & Tea House (812 N. 3rd St, Phoenix, AZ, 85004)

Roosevelt Community Church (924 N. 1st St, Phoenix, AZ, 85004)


Students from across the state of Arizona submitted an original work of art designed around the theme from the Foster Care Education Logo– Hope, Strength, Resilience, and Learning.


""Come out to support our students and learn more about how to help the foster care system from our partner organizations in the child welfare field.

Posted in News |
Published: March 1st, 2018

Awareness Through Art: Foster Care Awareness on Display

The “Awareness Through Art” K-6th Grade Student Artwork Foster Care Awareness Showcase is a visual/audio art showcase for K-6th grade Arizona students.

The showcase is open to all AZ K-6th grade students.

Students participate in the showcase by submitting an original work of art designed around the theme from the Foster Care Education logo:





Choose at least 2 words from the theme to convey through an original and inspiring work of art.


Submission Guidelines

Showcase submissions opened on Tuesday, Feb. 26th, 2018 and must be received no later than 5:00pm on Friday, April 6th, 2018

No limitation on number of entrants or entries

Submission entry form required for each work of art

Free to submit

Submissions must not exceed 14″ x 17″


Entries must be delivered in person (8:00am-5:00pm M-F) or via common carrier to one of the following addresses:

Arizona Department of Education

“Awareness Through Art”

Attn: Joey Taylor

1535 W. Jefferson St Bin #2, Phoenix, AZ, 85007


Arizona Department of Education

“Awareness Through Art”

Attn: Becky Raabe

3100 N. West St. #300 Rm 113, Flagstaff, AZ, 86004


Goodwill Metro (Tucson)

“Awareness Through Art” AZ Dept. of Education

Attn: Manager on Duty

300 N. 4th Ave., Tucson, AZ, 85705


**For the full submission packet click on this link.**




Posted in News |