Westchester Court Education Initiative
The Westchester Court Education Initiative is a unique program that promotes educational stability and academic success for students who have struggled with juvenile delinquency and/or whose parents are in Family Court due to allegations of neglect or abuse. The goal is to help address issues that may be negatively affecting school attendance and academic performance for troubled young people (ages 3-21).
How It Works
The Westchester Court Education Initiative is located on-site in family court, and consists of two part-time education advisors with masters-level expertise in education methodology, conflict resolution, child development, and federal and New York State laws. These education advisors consult with family court judges regarding the educational status of court-involved children and work collaboratively with parents/guardians to assist children in articulating and achieving educational goals. Each educational advisor provides the following services to participating young people:
- Reviewing educational, attendance, and discipline records, with a focus on special education needs and entitlements.
- Providing communication and coordination between family court judges, Department of Social Services, school districts, and attorneys in order to ensure educational stability.
- Providing individual advocacy to court-involved children.
- Providing community trainings for parents and professionals that work directly with youth.
Education advisors also submit reports to the court for each family with whom they work, and based on these reports, including documented improvements in attendance and school performance, a substantial number of cases were settled.
In 2010, 80 children were served through the Westchester Education Initiative. Sixty-one of these children significantly improved attendance as measured by report cards, attendance, and progress reports. Project staff also helped 46 students to obtain an appropriate Individualized Education Program (IEP) placement and services, and 13 of those children received a revamped IEP to better reflect their education needs.