At a Glance
At Greater Johnstown Career & Technology Center (GJCTC), the special education coordinator collaborates with the court advocate, caseworkers and sending school faculty to support students who are in the foster care system.
GJCTC special education coordinator Korie Duryea works closely with the Court Appointed Special Advocate as well as with other key service providers to ensure students are making educational progress. (A Court Appointed Special Advocate is a trained community volunteer assigned by the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court to speak to the best interests of children who are brought before the Court. Students may have a Court Appointed Special Advocate if they are in or moving through foster care or are on probation.) Ms. Duryea and the other providers seek to advocate for these students and make sure they do not fall through the cracks. She credits the strong collaborative relationship between her and the court appointed advocate for making it possible to meet the educational, social and emotional needs of these at-risk students in a timely and consistent manner.
Approximately once or twice a grading period, Ms. Duryea and her colleagues participate in a check-in meeting to monitor how a student with a court appointed special advocate is progressing. In addition to Ms. Duryea, these meetings typically include the court advocate, a representative from the sending school, the student and the student’s parent or custodian. Prior to the meeting, Ms. Duryea observes the student in the classroom and also receives input from the teacher. During the meeting, the participants problem solve how to address any barriers to learning the student is facing and agree upon the next steps.
In addition to discussing student needs at all the formal quarterly meetings, Ms. Duryea and the court appointed special advocate also frequently communicate more informally about any issues that are of concern about the student. Such issues may relate to attendance, behavior or school performance. This type of ongoing communication allows Ms. Duryea to notify the advocate immediately if she notices a learning barrier or challenge so that they can determine an appropriate intervention.
Ms. Duryea emphasizes the importance of building strong relationships with the other stakeholders who are involved in supporting students in or moving through foster care. She notes that the school faculty member(s) who is responsible for helping these students should know the appropriate point of contacts for various services and should focus on developing a mutual understanding of how to work together to meet students’ needs.
The established working relationships between GJCTC, the court appointed special advocate and other safety net stakeholders allows these individuals to efficiently support students who are in or moving through foster care.