Thursday, January 27, 2011

Great tale of a foster kid done good and the laws that protected him

A great tale from the Huffington Post by Daniel Heimpel: Staring at Superman:

"For 23-year-old former foster youth Sokhom Mao, a California law proved the lynchpin to his educational success and entrance into the workforce.

In 2004, Sokhom was a sophomore at Oakland High School in California. He and his five siblings had entered foster care when he was just a boy, after the death of his mother. After years spent in group homes, Sokhom had finally landed under the roof of family again, living with his aunt. But she was prone to fits of anger, a reminder of the abuse the entire family had endured at the hands of the Mao children's estranged father. So Sokhom and older brother Sokha moved to a transitional housing program in Hayward.

While the living arrangement was better, being in Hayward meant a new school district, putting Sokhom's ability to remain at Oakland High, a school he loved, into question. Fearful that he would have to change schools, Sokhom asked his residential social worker what he should do. 'She said, 'you know what Sokhom, they have got to let you stay there. There is a new law signed by the Governor and if the counselors say anything you tell them to call me,'' Sokhom recalls.


Senator Al Franken (D-MN) set out to fill this gap in 2009 when he authored the Fostering Success in Education Act, which would impose mandates on the Department of Education that mirror those already imposed on public child welfare administrations. Further, the law frees up federal Education dollars to create a cadre of liaisons charged with ensuring that children experiencing foster care receive all the educational benefits they are due."

With all the negativity surrounding education right now, it's great to see positive stories such as this, and to see my Senator pushing for a federal law to help foster kids in public education.

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