Learning Session "A" - Monday April 25, 2022
10:45 am - 12:00 pm

Student Oriented Workshop

A1     From a Foster Youth to Foster Youth, You Are FINE

Theresa Reed, Pasadena City College, STARS Advisor and FYSI Liaison


I am a former foster youth and now author, and want to help foster youth find your voice by examining your journey in foster care to create a story and find outlets for sharing it. I want to help students feel that seen, heard, and valued and your journey have a higher purpose of encouraging others.   You will explore a new meaning of being F.I.N.E. and challenge the beliefs in your invisible trauma backpack by viewing yourself through a trauma lens to shift the perceptions of your circumstances. You will leave with an action plan you can begin using immediately.

A2     Mentoring Youth to Success

Sara Towner-Arispe & Ilinanoa Suilafu, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program Specialist Managers

Shonie Perry & Daisy Esparza, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools Homeless Education Program Specialist Managers       


Attendees will learn how to maximize educational outcomes for At-Promise youth using mentorship programs. San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools Children Deserve Success in partnership with five distinct mentoring programs work in collaboration with school districts county wide to provide on campus mentoring support to students.  The mentoring programs promote developmental, advocacy, and self-reliance themes to encourage youth and empower them to meet the challenges of being successful students and citizens as they grow through the challenges of being historically underserved or being considered At-Promise.  These themes include leadership development, life skills, professional development, mental health and wellness, career exploration and preparation for post-secondary success. You will leave with an understanding of how our collective impact brings agencies together to mentor, re-engage, support, increase attendance, reduce suspensions, and increase overall student engagement.

A3     Ensuring School Stability Through School of Origin Transportation

Alaina Moonves-Leb, Alliance for Children's Rights, Senior Staff Attorney

Danielle Wondra, Children Now Senior Policy & Outreach Associate, Child Welfare

Deborah Avalos, California Department of Education, Education Programs Consultant, FYSCP 

With an average of 8 school changes, youth lose up to 4 years of learning during their time in care and face the continuing trauma of reestablishing academic and social relationships. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires districts and child welfare to work together to arrange and fund transportation to school of origin (SOO), the vital right needed to ensure school stability. First, learn the basics of SOO law, including the intersections of Federal and California requirements along with the results of a statewide public records act request seeking ESSA plans, SOO practices, data demonstrating trends in implementation, highlighted best practices, and areas where improvement is needed.  Then, review a new document from the School Stability Subcommittee that includes best practices and creative solutions to aide in implementation of this right—even as counties struggle with limited budgets, relationships between agencies and responsibilities, and limited transportation options.

A4     Creating Hope and Resiliency through Youth Leadership Academy

Pamela Hancock, Director; Amanda Meeker, Student Services Specialist; Brent Smither, Program Coordinator; Josh Blecha, Program Coordinator

Fresno County Superintendent of Schools


So often foster and homeless students are only seen as victims, having problems, or needing therapy. We want to change this perception. Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Foster & Homeless Education Department, in collaboration with our Safe and Healthy Kids Department, has developed a Leadership Academy for students in foster care and those experiencing homelessness that focuses on utilizing students’ strengths to develop leadership skills and giving back to the community through volunteerism. Cohorts of students participate in team building, goal setting, self-reflection, and outdoor education activities as they learn to lead themselves and others and build resiliency and hope so they can overcome their circumstances.  Learn about this program and experience the leadership strategies used.  Walk away with ideas of how to develop a similar program in your community.

A5     Trauma Informed and Resilience Focused Schools

Jaymee McLaughlin, Chico Unified School District, Homeless and Foster Liaison


How do you create a Trauma Informed and Resilience-Focused school? Trauma informed and Resilience Focused is asking "What is driving the way this child thinks about themselves and others”, and “How does that impact the way they behave?” We will discuss a ten step approach to empowering our youth who have experienced trauma and help them build resiliency. We can help foster the possibility of well-being by restoring and nurturing resilience despite other life diversities.  You will leave with materials that can support you taking this program to your schools.

A6     Let the Data do the talking: How to use your own data to make program changes

Jeze Lopez, Program Director; Briseida Maciel, Program Specialist; Andrea Garcia, Life Skills Specialist;

Eric Lara, Associate Dean Student Success and Equity

Mt. San Antonio College


In this presentation, we will share how the REACH Guardian Scholars program has used a data driven approach to implementing services and securing funding to best support our students. We will explain how the data was analyzed to help staff make informed decisions on best practices for the program. You will learn recommended data parameters to analyze program data and how findings have been utilized by the REACH program to make programmatic changes, implement pilot projects and secure campus funds. You will also receive materials and guides on what the REACH program has done and how you can replicate them.

A8     Today's Foster Youth: How to Create a Comprehensive Foster Youth Support Program on Your Campus

Jenna Mendez, Corona-Norco Unified School District, TK-12 District Foster Youth Counselor/Liaison


Foster youth are often the invisible underserved population. Come learn how to create a comprehensive academic and social/emotional program serving the needs of today's foster youth. We will discuss academic supports, on-campus programs and mentorships, district and community outreach, career readiness, resources, and how to build meaningful relationships for this at-risk population. Financial limitations and options, and ideas for all grade levels will be also discussed. A link to a participant resources guide will be provided to our attendees.

A9     Success Road Map  - this workshop is repeated in session D

Michelle Slade, Founder & Chief Strategist; Bethtina Woodridge, Associate Strategist; 

Cindy Aguilar-Castaneda, Assisting Strategist

C4 Consulting


Students - please join us in this interactive workshop.  You will walk away from this experience with enhanced knowledge, understanding, and ability to set and achieve your goals.  We will work together to help you gain better understanding of your passions/purpose and core values. Leave with a new road map to help you succeed in your journey.