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Learning Session "A" - Monday March 27, 2023
10:45 am - 12:00 pm


Student Oriented Workshop

A1     Preparing Our Leaders to Protect Our Youth: LA Unified’ s Approach to CSEC Awareness Education

Dr. Linet Danoukh, District Lead, Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, Los Angeles Unified School District

Traci Williams, LPCC, M.A., M.Ed.., Los Angeles Unified School District


LA Unified School District's Student Support Programs (SSP) has led efforts in the implementation of a staff awareness education curriculum, which highlights the critical role school personnel play in protecting youth from the dangers of the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). Currently, CSEC awareness education is being implemented at secondary schools throughout the district. This workshop will highlight the key components of the District’s CSEC initiative, the awareness education and the current efforts to better identify and support youth who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation. You will learn ways to implement protocols and support services for school staff addressing the needs of CSEC. Specifically, we will cover the development of the Cadre of Consultants and strengths-based support services provided to CSEC in LAUSD. You will leave with a guide to support you in the development of a CSEC awareness plan.

A2     Let's Talk About FYSCP Direct Services; Strategies, Impacts, and Data Collection

Dr. Michelle Lustig, Program Director, LACOE TAP

Mindy Corless, Program Coordinator, LACOE TAP

Meagan Meloy, Director, Butte County School Ties & Prevention Services 

Lavena Najera, Youth Services Liaison, Kings County 

Paul Durham, Manager, San Bernardino County


This panel will be facilitated by the Los Angeles County Office of Education, Foster Youth Services Technical Assistance Program. This training will address direct services provided by FYSCP programs with the use of AB 130 Direct Services funds. Content will cover direct services, strategies for collecting data, and reporting services and impacts. Participants will hear from FYSCP County Office of Education Programs, direct service providers, and students from various counties across California. This training will provide a space to share promising practices and discuss current barriers.


A3     An Effective Approach to Supporting Foster Youth Graduate High School and Attain Postsecondary Education Goals

Julie Harbutte, DSW, LCSW, Clinical Programs Manager

Evelyn Medina, BA, ITSP Program Supervisor

Lucia Johnson, MA, AMFT, ITSP Program Supervisor

Stephani Collazo, MSW, ITSP Program Supervisor

Children's Institute


In our workshop we will outline how we leverage the Individualized Transition Skills Program (ITSP) and supplemental services to support Transition Aged Youth (TAY) with child welfare or probation involvement in identifying and attaining postsecondary education goals. We will discuss how the ITSP team utilizes the Eight Chafee Outcomes and the principles of a Two Generation Wraparound approach to provide mentor, coaching, and case management services that support TAY transition successfully out of the foster care system into adulthood and independence. Additionally, we will illustrate how the ITSP team continually conducts needs assessments to gain a deeper understanding of system-involved TAY and what supplemental supports are necessary to ensure they reach their postsecondary education goals. We will discuss how the needs assessments prompted the creation and implementation of workshops, support groups, and celebrations; the addition of specialized roles with a focus on postsecondary education attainment; and continued partnership with community stakeholders and government entities to improve service delivery.

A4     Simply Friends and BEST Champions for Foster Students

Hon. Sherri Sobel, 2007 California Juvenile Court Judge of the Year, BEST Education Champions for Foster Youth

Dr. Malinda L. Hurley, Teacher and Foster Youth Program Advisor/Mentor, STAR Scholars (Student Trust and Resilience)

Opal Parikh, Executive Director, Foster Care Legal Network

Paul Freese, Jr., Board Chair, Foster Care Legal Network 


Come hear the perspective of a former foster youth – Dr. Malinda Hurley - about the emerging Simply Friends outreach model to foster youth in group home settings. We will show you how Simply Friends organizes social visits with youth. Inspired by the documentary “Won’t you be my neighbor” about Mr. Rogers, this initiative has the potential to become a movement of neighbors who step up to offer simple friendship to those most in need of connection with the community of care. You will also hear about the work being done to create a network of Educational Rights Holders for foster youth, within the framework of the BEST team model, and how important this process is.


A5     Taking it Higher:  Next Level Mentoring

Ilinanoa Suliafu, Foster Youth Services Program Specialist Manager

Sara Arispe, Foster Youth Services Program Specialist Manager

Daisy Esparza,  Homeless Education Program Specialist Manager

Shonie Perry,  Homeless Education Program Specialist

San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools


Learn how to maximize AB 130, American Rescue Plan and LCAP funding to increase educational outcomes and re-engage At-Promise youth using peer and school-based mentorship programs. San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools (SBCSS) Children Deserve Success (CDS) established Peer Support Associates positions for youth who have experienced homelessness and/or lived experience in foster care that work directly with educators, students, and community agencies.  In partnership with five distinct mentoring programs, CDS collaborates with 21 LEAs countywide to provide school-based mentoring at 150 school sites to empower students.  Both mentoring support programs promote developmental, wellness, self-advocacy, and self-reliance skills to encourage historically underserved or At-Promise youth while empowering them to overcome challenges and adversities. We will discuss curriculum themes that include leadership development, life skills, professional development, mental wellness, career exploration and preparation for post-secondary success. You will leave with an understanding of how our collective impact, combined with youth coaching, brings agencies together to mentor, re-engage, support, increase attendance, reduce suspensions/expulsions, and increase overall LEA participation.

A6     STAR Meetings

Valerie Hartley, Empowering Youth, Shasta County Independent Living Program

Cheryl Harlow, Youth Support Services, Shasta County Office of Education


Come learn about a collaboration we have created between Shasta County Office of Education and Shasta County ILP called STAR meeting.  In the presentation we will discuss the importance of the STAR meeting we hold with students from grades 9th-12th grade.  We will go over the items we do during the meeting (like talking about barriers, going over transcripts, discussing partial credits, etc.).  Our presentation will include a panel of students who participated in STAR meetings and how it helped them in their educational paths.


A7​     Embracing Alternative Dispute Resolution Practices in Order to Effectively Advocate for Foster Youth in School Systems

Stacy Alvey, LCSW PPS, Mental Health Coordinator, Antelope Valley Special Education Local Plan Area

Benay Loftus, M.A., Program Administrator, Antelope Valley Special Education Local Plan Area

Monika Gylys, M.Ed. Program Specialist, Antelope Valley SELPA


IDEA, the federal law that is the basis for all special education services in public schools, requires parents/guardians, schools and community agencies to work collaboratively to develop individualized programs to address the unique needs of students with educational disabilities. Unfortunately, an unintended consequence of the law can sometimes create a high level of conflict among team members. Come and learn about the steps one Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) area in Southern California has taken to embrace and address conflict in a way that effectively advocates for all students in special education, including foster youth.

A8     Empowered Journalism Workshop

Raquel Wilson, Youth Voice Program Manager, Fostering Media Connections,

Youth Voice Program


This is an interactive workshop that teaches you how to use your experiences to turn your stories into publishable stories. Using your personal experiences to speak to different topics that impact foster youth in your communities, you will learn how to amplify your voices, use your stories to create systemic change, and empower others with similar situations. This workshop will teach you how to amplify your voice which allows you to have a more prominent role in the public discourse that shapes policy — and, ultimately, your life.


A9     Beep, Beep! LA Unified’ s Approach to Ensuring School Stability and Transportation Options for Students in Foster Care

Letisia Alvarado, District Support Counselor

Fabiola Gutierrez, District Support Counselor

Timesia Garcia, Pupil Services and Attendance Aide

LAUSD Student Support Programs Department


During this workshop we will highlight LAUSD’s procedures, tools and collaboration efforts which promote and support school stability for students in foster care, while ensuring the provisions of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) are followed and upheld. You will learn about innovative systems we have created that help identify, track and support foster care youth who may need to exercise their School of Origin rights. We will specifically discuss best practices and tools will be reviewed for conducting Best Interest Determination (BID) meetings. You will leave with a BID and SOO guide.  


Participants will review procedures that help identify the most cost-effective and reasonable mode of transportation options for students when addressing short-term and long-term transportation to school of origin.


Participants will also review how establishing collaborative partnerships with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), a private school transportation vendor (e.g. HopSkipDrive) and leveraging on district resources can impact school stability outcomes for foster care youth.


A10     The Educator and Foster Youth Liaison Guide for Understanding Youth in Foster Care

Deborah Avalos, Education Programs Consultant, California Department of Education


Come learn about a recently created resource document from the California Department of Education Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program team. You will receive an overview of the Educator and Foster Youth Liaison Guide for Understanding Youth in Foster Care and how to use this tool to ensure the youth in care in your local educational agencies are receiving appropriate services. Topics include understanding foster care, education rights, identifying youth in foster care, enrollment and transfers of youth in care, and considerations for classroom and school practices regarding youth in care.

A11     Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAPs) and Students in Foster Care

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

Alaina Moonves-Leb, Senior Staff Attorney, Statewide Education Rights, Alliance for Children’s Rights

Youth with lived experience in foster care 


Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAPs) are a key accountability component of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), intended for local educational agencies (LEAs) to show how they are serving high-need students, including students in foster care, and working to reduce achievement gaps. Yet, many LEAs do not specify in their LCAPs the services and supports they will provide for students in foster care to meet their unique educational needs. This presentation will cover the basics of LCFF and LCAPs as they are intended to benefit students in foster care. Presenters will share resources to assist LEAs in developing their LCAPs related to serving students in foster care. Attendees will learn ways that LEAs can incorporate the voices and participation of youth in foster care into their LCAP development process, including from youth with lived experience who will co-present the workshop, to ensure they are meeting the unique educational needs of their students in foster care.

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