IMPERIAL — Together, IV ROP and Imperial County Social Services sponsored a foster youth Project ACE (Accessing Careers through Education) event at the Ricochet Recreation Center in Imperial Tuesday evening.
Through Social Services, IV ROP contacted foster youth agencies in Imperial County targeting children between the ages of five and 16 years old to emphasize the importance of attendance in school, in hopes of encouraging more effort in education and extracurricular activities which has proven to result in improved scholastic performance for students.
“Foster youth have a lot of stress in their lives and struggle in school,” explained Luis Torres, IV ROP program manager and supervisor. “Typically, they tend to fall behind due to the constant moving around between foster homes and poor attendance in school becomes a significant added set-back. Basically, education wasn’t a priority before they were placed in foster care. They didn’t have the role models that young people sometimes have.”
The Ricochet event center was selected so that the kids had an opportunity to utilize the facility and then partake in pizza and soda provided for the kids and parents.
During the meal, Torres and Case Manager Estela Diaz conducted a presentation promoting productive academic behavior in an attempt to communicate the direct impacts, advantages, and payoffs of having good attendance.
Youth and their caregivers learned that in a nine month school year that has 20 actual school days per month, missing only two days a month would be the equivalent of missing an entire month’s worth of school.
“We’re posing the challenge today that they could only miss five days of school in the whole year and invite the kids to bring us proof of attendance and/or academic achievements. Next year sometime, we plan on having an event that recognizes students who performed well throughout the school year,” said Torres.
The event ended with a raffle for kids, awarding $15 gift cards to Toys ‘R’ Us, GameStop, Pac Sun, and McDonalds, with the grand prize winner taking home an electronic tablet.
“Hopefully, this can become an annual thing,” Torres said. “We hope that more members of the community can advocate for foster youth. These kids have been put in a situation where unfortunately things are beyond their control. They have been faced with difficult circumstances that happened to them at a young age and sometimes people don’t realize how that can affect your education.”