Keeping Ben in School

By Laycee Weier, Treehouse Educational Advocate

Ben, a happy and high energy 1st grader, came into foster care when he was just four years old. He lived in seven different foster homes until the summer of 2013, when he was placed with Cindy, her husband, and her two biological children. Ben quickly developed a special relationship with Cindy’s family, and he brings much joy to their home.

  Ben, first grade student

Ben also has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This can make it very challenging for him to concentrate and follow directions, especially in school. Ben entered Kindergarten with a wonderful teacher, Mrs. Franklin, who worked diligently with him to ensure he was on task and learning every day. Mrs. Franklin also worked really well with Ben’s foster parents, sending daily reports home and communicating with them when Ben needed extra help.

After a great first year of school, Ben was excited to hear that he would have Mrs. Franklin again for first grade. Unfortunately, Mrs. Franklin became ill and had to retire at the beginning of the school year and Ben was given a new teacher to finish out the school year. This proved to be a difficult change for him, and he started acting out in class. Ben’s behavior grew severe enough that he was ultimately emergency expelled for his behaviors.

Frustrated that her son was out of school, Cindy called me and requested Treehouse Advocacy services. Cindy was worried that Ben would never be able to attend his school again and that his behaviors had gotten so out of control she wasn’t sure she’d even be able to keep him in her home. Understanding the severity of the situation, I immediately started formulating a plan of action with Cindy. Since we knew that Ben needed extra support for his behavior and ADHD, I helped Cindy understand the special education services available in Ben’s school and walked her through how to get him tested. Next, we planned a meeting with Ben’s school. Cindy had a lot of frustrations regarding how the school handled this situation with Ben. I encouraged her to write her frustrations down and formulate them in proactive, positive questions to ask the administration.

During the meeting, Cindy was able to share what she believed Ben needed to be successful in the classroom. We collaborated on a plan to get Ben to be back at school with a teacher who could provide him with more individualized support. The school evaluated Ben for special education services and he qualified for an Individual Education Plan. A behavioral plan was also put in place for him, and he was invited to attend a social skills group each week through the school’s counseling department.

I’m happy to share that with these new arrangements, Ben was able to get back to school and is doing great! He loves his new teacher, has made several new friends this school year, and continues to learn and grow every day. Cindy checks in with me from time to time to report all good news regarding Ben. Cindy feels confident to meet with Ben’s school on her own, and doesn’t feel intimidated to ask for help. It’s great to know that Ben has the support he needs to succeed and Cindy is armed with information to continue to advocate for Ben and any other foster youth in her life!

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About the Author

As a Treehouse Educational Advocate, Laycee Weier, MSW, collaborates with schools, social workers, foster families and foster youth to resolve difficult issues and remove barriers to foster kids’ school success.

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