We can help students in the child welfare system achieve their educational goals

By Judith Fischer, president of AACFA 

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A recent story that aired on ABC News showed how foster youth in Michigan aren’t provided with an adequate education that will help set them up for a successful future. 

The article, “The state took children from their parents – then failed to give them a ‘real’ education,” showed how vulnerable children in treatment for mental health or substance misuse issues were sometimes so frustrated with their education that they dropped out of school. 

Some students said they received quality instruction, but others were parked in front of computers or handed packets of worksheets, according to the article. 

We must do better, and we can, by ensuring fair and adequate funding for Michigan’s not-for-profit, accredited child welfare agencies. 

The agencies that make up the Association of Accredited Child & Family Agencies provide quality education to the children in our care. This year, we celebrated our clients who overcame obstacles and adversity to graduate high school. Our five member agencies saw 82 students graduate this year, and some are entering the workforce or pursuing higher education. 

We are proud to offer educational opportunities for our clients and are even prouder of our clients who worked so hard amid difficult circumstances to accomplish their graduation. Our agencies provide a full continuum of services to help our clients thrive, and high school graduation is one of these important milestones that allows these students to become contributing members of society. 

Children experiencing mental health issues, substance misuse, abuse at home or other issues need a full continuum of care in order to thrive. This continuum of care can be sustained with fair and adequate funding for not-for-profit agencies, which receive 30 percent less in state funding than state-run entities. 

We must help these children break the cycle and achieve their educational goals, for their futures and the future of our state. 

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