Press Release: Social workers have new tool to support educational needs of students in foster care

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                    

Contacts:
Margo Minecki, LACOE, 562-500-5184
Amara Suarez, DCFS, 213-739-6448

LOS ANGELES (July 20, 2020) — Los Angeles County social workers now have improved connectivity to youth in foster care, something especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to a partnership between the Los Angeles County Office of Education and Department of Children and Family Services.

Foster youth often change residences and school districts. Schools and agencies require centralized access to student records so they can provide seamless, comprehensive educational services. LACOE developed the Educational Passport System several years ago to provide all 80 county K-12 districts and DCFS with a free centralized database of demographic and academic information for foster youth, promoting quick transfer of vital student records and the ability for social workers to connect with students out in the field.

Now, mobile and web versions of the Passport System are available, allowing the department’s more than 7,800 social workers to easily view school records on their cell phones while out in the field. The app was developed by LACOE’s Technology Services team in collaboration with DCFS.

“I’m deeply concerned about the pandemic’s impact on our young people in foster care,” said LACOE Superintendent Debra Duardo, head of the nation’s largest regional education agency that supports 80 K-12 districts and some two million preschool and school-age students.

“These young people were already dealing with the negative effect of trauma, which has only been made worse by school closures and social distancing,” she said. “Addressing their needs requires collaboration between educators and social workers, and I am proud to partner with DCFS to provide this vital new tool.”

The Los Angeles County Educational Passport System mobile app empowers social workers in the field to use their department-issued cell phones to easily view school information about youth on their caseload before visiting with them or foster families without having to return to the office to do so.

“We are grateful for LACOE’s leadership and collaboration in developing a robust and well-designed system that will provide real time information to help our social workers address educational needs of youth in foster care,” DCFS Director Bobby D. Cagle said. “We expect the system will help us achieve better education outcomes for youth and will assist them in reaching their full potential.”

Using the mobile app, social workers can add new youth assigned to their caseload and remove those no longer assigned to them. They can view student demographics, enrollment history, attendance records and progress reports.

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