Washington State’s Education Advocacy Program (EAP) helps over 2,000 foster youth annually to resolve problems in school. EAP coordinators provide direct advocacy, working with school staff to address issues such as youth academic performance. The coordinators also consult with foster youth, caregivers, and social workers to help youth and their caregivers advocate for themselves in the K—12 system. The EAP also provides information and referrals to local resources.
The EAP is structured around four goals: 1) improved access to services, 2) youth stay enrolled in school and improve attendance, 3) youth maintain academic progress, and 4) the reduction of school disciplinary actions. Of EAP youth who received direct advocacy or consultation services in 2007—08 and 2008—09, over half sought to improve access to services—often special education—and over a quarter worked to maintain school enrollment or academic progress. Approximately one-fifth of EAP youth addressed more than one goal.
This report describes factors—youth characteristics and foster care placement history—that influence which goals youth address in the EAP. Using statistical analyses, we found that boys were more likely than girls to address school discipline, and that the more time youth spent in foster care, the more likely they were to seek help to improve access to services. We also identified regional differences in which goals EAP youth addressed. We do not know whether regional differences were due to variation in youth issues, local practices, or both.