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Child Welfare, Education, and the Courts:
Achieving Educational Stability Milestones through Systems Collaboration

Date/Time: Monday, November 5, 2012, 3:00-4:30 PM EST

It’s been nearly a year since leaders in the child welfare, education, and juvenile court systems for every State, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico convened for the two-day meeting, Child Welfare, Education and the Courts: A Collaboration to Strengthen Educational Successes of Children and Youth in Foster Care. Since that time, State Teams comprised of these leaders have been working diligently on achieving the goals outlined in the State Action Plans they developed during that meeting. Throughout the past year, we have seen numerous collaborations formed or strengthened; these collaborations have led to improvements in stability and continuity for children and youth in care, such as the development of educational liaison positions, the establishment of data sharing agreements, and improved communication through State-level Summits. The Children’s Bureau and National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections completed our round of Technical Assistance and awareness webinars with this final event. During this webinar, leadership from all three systems (child welfare, education, and courts) recognized the enhancements in educational well-being that have been achieved for children and youth in care due to this work. The Nebraska State Team and collaborating presenters provided a special presentation on their work around one of the most consistently identified challenges across States – data sharing between systems. The Nebraska presentation included responses to questions related to data sharing between systems submitted by audience members prior to the webinar.  In closing, Lupe Ortiz-Tovar, NRCYD Program Development Specialist and former foster youth, shared her perspective on the importance of this work and how it can improve the educational futures of children and youth in foster care. The webinar also highlighted resources and supports that will continue to be available to State Teams.

Listening Time: 85 minutes

Presenters

Bryan Samuels is the Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Prior to joining the Administration, Samuels served as Chief of Staff for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) from 2007-2009, playing a leadership role in managing the operations of the third largest school system in the nation. From 2003 to 2007, Samuels served as the Director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the third largest child welfare system in the country.  At ACYF, Commissioner Samuels has made the social and emotional well-being of vulnerable children and youth his top priority.  He is aligning policies and funding to support healing and recovery for children and youth who have experienced trauma, with an emphasis on increasing access to evidence-based interventions.  Under his leadership, ACYF is leading a Department-wide initiative to strengthen management of psychotropic medications for children in foster care and expand the use of effective interventions.

Judge Patricia A Macias, Presiding Judge of the 388th Family District Court in El Paso, Texas has served on the bench since 1995.  Throughout her judicial tenure, she has developed innovative court practices in family law including high conflict divorce and custody, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, and child support enforcement cases. Judge Macias is involved in state and national efforts to improve the lives of children in foster care, and most recently served as Education Committee Chair of the Texas Supreme Court Commission on Children, Youth, and Families.  In this capacity, she led a state collaborative committee, which included members of the judiciary, Texas Department of Education, and child welfare professionals. The result of this initiative was the publication, the Texas Blueprint: Transforming Education Outcomes for Children and Youth in Foster Care. In 2008-2009, she served as President of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and continues involvement through committee work and teaching. Among her most recent recognitions are Judicial Leadership Award, Supreme Court of Texas Children’s Commission, 2012 and Jurist of the Year, the El Paso Bar Association, 2010. She received a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Texas at El Paso, an M.S. in Child Development, doctoral studies in Child and Family Therapy from the University of Oregon, and a J.D. from St. Mary’s University.

Dr. Johan E. Uvin joined the Department of Education in December 2009 as the Senior Policy Advisor to Assistant Secretary, Brenda Dann-Messier in the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE).  In June 2011, Dr. Uvin was appointed to the position of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Policy and Strategic Initiatives within OVAE. Prior to his appointment, he led the Rhode Island state office that oversees adult education, career and technical education, and GED testing.  During his tenure, he established standards for students, teachers, and programs. He introduced outcome management and performance-based funding to providers.  Uvin worked closely with partner organizations to increase the number of programs combining education and training related to career pathways in critical and emerging employment sectors.  He also assisted local governments in developing pathways out of poverty for low-skilled residents. Uvin established multiple strategic partnerships and leveraged co-investments to create college transition opportunities for adults, provide integrated education and career technical training for out-of-school youth and adults, and create an e-learning effort.  Uvin holds a Doctorate in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy and a Master’s in International Education from Harvard University.  He also holds a Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont.  In recent years, he was acknowledged by the hospitality and long term care industries in Rhode Island for his contributions to creating career pathways for low skilled adults in these sectors.

Lupe Ortiz-Tovar, Program Development Specialist
National Resource Center for Youth Development (NRCYD)
With a youth development and engagement focus, Lupe administers the Young Adult Training and Technical Assistance Network, the summer internship and various opportunities that that NRCYD offers for youth and alumni from the child welfare system. Lupe oversees the Youth Port site and Social media efforts with a primary focus of the promotion of youth engagement and empowerment as a standard in child welfare practices. Lupe also interacts with Youth Advisory Boards, and partners with networks that work with a Youth Development focus. Lupe was instrumental in organizing youth involvement in the Child Welfare, Education, and the Courts Summit in November 2011, engaging NRCYD’s, Young Adult Training and Technical Assistance (YATTA) Network members, made up of young leaders that formerly spent time in foster care, as well as local members of Foster Care Alumni of America, who all formerly spent time in foster care. She supported the involvement of young leaders in their plenary keynote presentation on the perspective of youth in care regarding their educational needs and stability in their education experience.

Nebraska State Team and Collaborating Partners

Child Welfare
Christine M. Hanus, Special Projects Administrator
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services – Division of Children and Family Services
Chris Hanus has been with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services – Division of Children and Family Services (DHHS) for more than 40 years.  She currently serves as DHHS’ Special Projects Administrator as well as the DHHS State Liaison for Education of Students in Out-of-Home Placements.  Chris is a member of the Fostering Connections in Education State Team, NDE Committee on Education of Students in Out-of-Home Placements, and its Systems Work Group and Informational Advocacy Work Group.  She was also instrumental in development of the recent NDE/DHHS State Ward Statistical Snapshot.

Education
Michele L. Borg, Facilitator/Coordinator for Education of Students in Out-of-Home Placement (OHP) Initiatives
Nebraska Department of Education – Special Populations
Michele Borg is a private contractor for the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE), working with several multidisciplinary initiatives and programs that improve academic and vocational outcomes for court-involved students.  Michele serves as the NDE State Liaison for Education of Students in Out-of-Home Placements as well as the Facilitator/Coordinator for the NDE Committee on Education of Students in Out-of-Home Placements, its work groups, and the Fostering Connections in Education State Team.  She is also a member of the Probation/DHHS/NCJIS Information Sharing Task Force.

Benjamin Baumfalk, Statistical Research Analyst
Nebraska Department of Education – Data, Research and Evaluation Team
Ben Baumfalk is a Research and Evaluation Specialist for the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE), working in the areas of instructional design and training.  Ben was instrumental in conducting the recent NDE/DHHS State Ward Statistical Snapshot and subsequent report.

The Courts
Judge Lawrence D. Gendler, Sarpy County Separate Juvenile Court
Judge Gendler has been a Juvenile Court Judge for more than 20 years.  He currently chairs the State Judicial Ethics Committee and the Through the Eyes of the Child Statewide Initiative.  Judge Gendler is a member of the Nebraska Supreme Court Commission on Children in the Courts, the Fostering Connections in Education State Team, and the NDE Committee on Education of Students in Out-of-Home Placements’ System Work Group.  He also co-chairs the Sarpy County Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI).  

Vicky Weisz, Director of Nebraska Court Improvement Project
University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center on Children, Families, and the Law
Vicky Weisz is the Director of the Nebraska Court Improvement Project and a Research Professor of Psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center on Children, Families, and the Law (UNL-CCFL).  The Court Improvement Project supports the Nebraska Supreme Court Commission on Children in the Courts as well as the Through the Eyes of the Child Statewide Initiative.  Vicky is a member of the Fostering Connections in Education State Team, the NDE Committee on Education of Students in Out-of-Home Placements’ System Work Group, and the Probation/DHHS/NCJIS Information Sharing Task Force.

Nebraska Crime Commission
Michael Overton, Chief of Information Services Division
Nebraska Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice
Michael Overton has been with the Nebraska Crime Commission since 1986, now serving as Chief of the Information Services Division.  He is involved in research and statistics as well as criminal justice integration.  This includes increasing access to various state and local databases through NCJIS (Nebraska Criminal Justice Information System), which serves as a secure Internet-based data portal.  Mike is also a member of the Probation/DHHS/NCJIS Information Sharing Task Force.

Resources

Nebraska Materials

  • Partnering 4 Students: Nebraska’s Tool Kit for Systems Involved in Education of Students in Out-of-Home Care
    Partnering4Students is Nebraska’s web-based Tool Kit of information and resources designed to assist educators and staff of the primary systems involved in education of children and youth in out-of-home care. Developed through a multi-agency collaboration, the Systems Tool Kit includes FAQs, sample processes and forms, contact listings, interactive maps and links to related documents and websites.  These resources are designed to promote a common understanding, greater awareness, and collaborative knowledge about the following topics: systems collaboration, Nebraska’s child welfare system, Nebraska’s juvenile and criminal justice systems, elementary and secondary education, post-secondary education and employment, and diverse student populations.

This flyer provides information about the Tool Kit.

  • Out-of-Home Placement Committee Brochure
    This brochure provides information about the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) Committee on Education of Students in Out-of-Home Placements. This is a multi-disciplinary group, organizationally housed under the NDE’s Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC). The OHP Committee’s stated purpose is to advise and make recommendations regarding education of students in out-of-home care to the NDE, SEAC, State Accreditation Committee, State Board of Education, other state and local agencies, policymakers, and stakeholders. (2012)
  • State Ward Statistical Snapshot
    This report contains a number of tables comprised of aggregate data for students who attended Nebraska accredited public schools, including special purpose schools, between the dates of July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011 and were identified as state wards. According to the State Ward Education Snapshot Agreement, the purpose of this project is to provide information to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in support of their effort “to evaluate the effectiveness of Nebraska’s K-12 public school system as it relates to the education of state wards.” (June 2012)
  • Sample Court Orders and Checklist Related to Education for Court-Involved Students
    This resource from Judge Lawrence D. Gendler, Sarpy County Separate Juvenile Court, includes two sample court orders: (1) Court Order related to education for Probable Cause Findings on Abuse/Neglect Matters, and (2) Court Order Cause related to Education for a Detention Hearing involving a Youngster who is Detained or Placed at Home on Electronic Monitoring. It also includes a checklist addressing the educational status of minors in the Sarpy County Separate Juvenile Court.