Erin Black, trainer at Alliance for Children's Rights, leads a foster education seminar focusing on court companion toolkit training. Photo submitted

Agencies advocate for youth

Lassen County Probation and Lassen County Foster Youth Services, along with the Independent Living Program, offers upcoming training at Lassen Community College on advocating for foster youth.  The event is a foster education seminar focusing on court companion toolkit training led by guest speakers Jill Rowland, Education Program Director, and Alaina Moonves, Senior Staff Attorney for Alliance for Children’s Rights.

Foster youths’ ability to learn and succeed in school is significantly impacted by the trauma they suffer as well as school instability. To combat this instability, foster and probation youth have a set of education rights including school stability, immediate enrollment, partial credits and AB 167/216 graduation. Utilizing the Foster Youth Education Toolkit and the Court Companion to the Toolkit, attendees will learn the basics of these rights and leave the presentation with the building blocks upon which school districts can construct a comprehensive program to realize real gains in the achievements of their foster youth. Each topic is covered by a factsheet outlining relevant laws, best practice implementation steps and flexible tools including sample letters and forms. Attendees will also learn some of the basics of special education law and be able to ask questions about complicated special education cases.

Rowland earned her JD at UCLA School of Law, specializing in Critical Race Studies. She majored in Communications and Sociology at UC Santa Barbara. She is an expert in every area of education impacting foster youth, including early intervention, special education, general education, school discipline and interrupting the school-to-prison pipeline. Jill’s vision has grown the Alliance’s Education Program in areas ranging from pioneering legal representation for early intervention services to addressing the unique trauma-related education needs of foster youth.

Her collaborative approach led to the creation of the Foster Youth Education Toolkit and its Court Companion, the training of thousands of school district and foster/probation system personnel (including social workers, probation officers, attorneys and judges), and improved foster youth policies put into practice in multiple school districts. Jill is passionate about providing foster and probation youth with an equitable education, so they can succeed in college, work, and life.

Moonves holds a JD from New York University where she was president of the High School Law Institute and advocated for families navigating the New York education and dependency systems. In 2011, she joined the Alliance as an Equal Justice Works Fellow to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline for foster youth. In this role, she directly advocated for youth, worked within the schools and juvenile courts, lead the development of key policy efforts and legislation — including training efforts. At the conclusion of her fellowship, Alaina became a staff attorney and continued this work.

She is currently the senior staff attorney, statewide education rights. In her current role, she maintains a small number of direct advocacy cases, but focuses the majority of her time on foster youth education legislation, policy and implementation at the local and state level. Prior to law school, she taught special education for two years, earned an MA in teaching through the Teach for America Program, and was honored nationally as their special education teacher of the year.

This class is open to all members of the community. Interested parties must pre register at eventbrite.com/e/alliance-for-childrens-rights-education-court-companion-toolkit-tickets-70164745643.

Registration is free and closes Nov. 9.