top of page

Learning Session "B" - Monday March 27, 2023
1:30 pm - 2:45 pm


Student Oriented Workshop

B1     Equitable Student Opportunities: Alternatives to a Standard High School Diploma

Bernadine Holman, Program Consultant, California Department of Education

Melissa Stockbridge, Project Specialist I, Sacramento County Office of Education


Come to this workshop to learn how to better assist students who may benefit from alternative pathways to graduation by using the Proficiency and Equivalency tests. You will learn about eligibility, how to better support both challenged and excelling students, and about testing delivery methods. Additionally, we will provide you with resources for these opportunities to assist students in these educational pathways.

B2     How to Build a Multi-Disciplinary CSEC Prevention Program in Your County

Amy Maggard, Student Support Practitioner, CSEC, Placer County Office of Education

Alicia Rozum, Coordinator, Foster/Homeless/CSEC Youth Services, Placer County Office of Education

Evelyn Del Bosque, Student Support Practitioner, FYS, Placer County Office of Education


The recruitment and sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) can occur anywhere, including the halls where students walk each day. Due to advances in technology and increased access, any student can be at risk. In 2018, the Placer County Office of Education (PCOE) partnered with local agencies to create a robust prevention and early intervention program. This training will provide a basic framework for understanding the issues around CSEC; legislative and law changes impacting criminal law and education code; and an overview of how PCOE partnered to create a CSEC program to support all 17 local districts. Content will include an overview of CSEC; information about Placer's CSEC Multi-Disciplinary Team; PCOE's education-based prevention program; and a framework for other districts/COEs to adapt in the creation of their own programs. Educational and outreach materials developed will be distributed.

B3     Engagement, Content Expertise, and Equity; A Roadmap for School Retention and Academic Achievement for Foster Youth

Florence Avognon, Instructional Coach/TOSA, Los Angeles County Office of Education


Much like the climate of the country has shifted to acknowledge and rectify historical disparities, educators are being asked to reckon with the ongoing disparities in academic achievement- disparities aligned to key indicators on the California Dashboard. These disparities have often been revealed in the percentage of special education designations, the lack of student engagement, the absence of culturally responsive content, and the ongoing “failure to meet standards” in literacy and numeracy assessments. It is estimated that "30 to 40 percent of foster youth are in the special education system, a significantly higher percentage than non-foster care youth". ( A disproportionate amount of these students are African-Americans. How do we create a more culturally responsive approach to education that connects the classroom to communities? Participants will engage in activities that model strategies for student engagement, explore policies and opportunities for community partnership in schools, and hear testimonials of former students who were justice-involved students. You will leave with an understanding that if we change perceptions, we can change these outcomes.

B4     Bridging the Gap: Supporting Students Who Were Impacted By The Foster Care System, And Their Transition From High School To Post-secondary

Dr. Jennifer Rios-Zambrano, Student Health and Human Services Specialist, LAUSD: Student Support Programs


Los Angeles Unified School District's Student Support Programs (SSP) facilitates a summer bridge initiative called Bridging the Gap in which Specialized Student Services (SSS) Counselors work collaboratively to connect with recent graduates who are/were impacted by the foster care system, to solidify their post-high school plans. We will discuss effective ways to engage and connect with recent graduates to better their post secondary outcomes, by utilizing  college and university support and services.   Find out ways to effectively collaborate with community partners to better the outcome of FAFSA completion, college, and/or campus support application completion that assist with post-secondary pathways for youth.  You will leave with a sample student resource packet for Bridging the Gap student participants.

B5  Creating Hope and Resiliency through a Youth Leadership Academy

Joshua Blecha, Program Coordinator, Fresno County Superintendent of Schools

Brent Smither, Program Coordinator, Fresno County Superintendent of Schools

Amanda Meeker, Student Services Specialist, 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 that they can overcome their circumstances. Students are also exposed to developing healthy life skills and how to make nutritionally sound choices.  Come learn about this program and experience the leadership strategies used.  Walk away with ideas of how to develop a similar program in your community.

B6     Improving Education Outcomes of Youth in Foster Care through Systems Change: A Best Practices Guide for Districts

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

Mark Rodgers, Senior Director, Student Services, Bonita Unified School District

Jill Rowland, Director, Alliance for Children's Rights


How are youth in foster care doing in your district? Does your district issue 100% of the partial credits youth are entitled to? Or ensure that 70, 80, or even 90% of your seniors graduate? How about having 80-90% of your youth remain stable in one school for a full school year? Six school districts spent 5 years collaborating to improve the education outcomes of their foster youth. Find out how they did it and how you can too. Learn how to utilize the Best Practices Guide for Developing a District System to Improve Education Outcomes for Youth in Foster Care, including accessing best practices, tools, tips, data tools and more.

B7     Fostering Academic Success in Education (FASE)

Ernesto Vizcarra, Educational Protection Service Worker, County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency

Sarah Glass, Protective Services Program Manager, County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency

Charisma De Los Reyes, San Diego County Office of Education Coordinator, Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program


Research indicates youth in foster care are more likely than their non-foster care peers to repeat a grade, perform lower on standardized tests, or drop out of school. Many foster youth change schools far too often as they change foster care placements and school changes hinder academic achievement. Come learn about the County of San Diego Fostering Academic Success in Education (FASE) program. FASE builds an infrastructure that supports collaborative and coordinated educational wrap-around supports for youth in the foster care system, which enables them to achieve educational success in high school, postsecondary education and beyond.  This session will also provide a space to hear the experiences of FASE youth, who will share their experiences of having an educational social worker. This session is designed to promote a proactive engagement of partnering agencies, schools, and community organizations to support youth and their families in their communities.

B8     1-2-3 Wellness: Self-Care for Students & Adult Supporters

Dr. Drew Schwartz


What helps you navigate challenging times? In this session, you will learn about brain-based strategies that help you process stress in healthy ways. Learn how to apply practical skills related to safety, connection, healthy ways to respond to stress, and self-compassion.  I will also give you dozens of simple self-care tools you can start using immediately. You will also learn about the 1-2-3 Wellness program and how you can get it in your county to help you and others like you.


B9     Affirmation Jar Wellness Workshop

Shloka Homa, Youth Fellow, Inland Congregations United For Change

Jonathan Lopez, Community Organizer, Inland Congregations United for Change

Erica Ruiz, LGBTQ Youth Organizer, Inland Congregations United for Change  


Come join us for a hands-on interactive workshop on improving your emotional wellness by creating your very own affirmation jar! Affirmations are positive self-empowering words, statements, feelings, or experiences that can be integrated into your life to improve your mental well-being and emotional wellness. You will have the opportunity to decorate your affirmation jar and create affirmations that you can implement in your life. The activity will be followed by an enlightening guided meditation that will transform you into a tranquil state and will allow you to immerse yourself in the positive space you will create with your affirmations. The affirmation jar and the guided meditation will be experiences you can continue to implement into your life after the workshop to manage your mental well-being.

B10     Love Over Labels

Leilani Miller, TAY Specialist, Glenn County Office of Education

Veronica Barde, Youth Resource Specialist, Glenn County Office Of Education

Mia Vill, Outreach Case Manager, Glenn County Office of Education 

Youth panel


Love Over Labels is a training provided to break the stigma that Foster Youth carry. Foster Youth carry and wear their trauma on their sleeves and is displayed as anger, depressions, lack of motivation and more. This interactive training will help you realize that Foster Youth are more than their trauma and labels, it will shine the resiliency over the trauma. There will be a youth panel to share what has helped them overcome trauma and be resilient. Our goal is to help service providers understand Trauma so they can un-label youth they work with and allow youth to feel loved over labels.


bottom of page