Darnell* is 17 years old. He has been in foster care for over a decade due to his mother’s ongoing drug addiction issues. Several times, he tried living with his mother when she was out of treatment, but it never lasted long. As a result of these failed attempts to reunify—and behavioral issues stemming from childhood trauma—Darnell ended up living in seven different foster care settings.

For several years, Darnell had been enrolled in approved private schools where he received intensive mental health supports for his behavioral concerns. After finally achieving success at a specialized private school for special needs students, Darnell wanted to move to a public school where he could play sports and enroll in vocational-technical classes. KidsVoice served as Darnell’s Education Decision Maker and successfully advocated for him to make the transition to public school and receive the supports necessary to succeed.

This past year, Darnell did very well, taking pride at being able to use his coping skills in a general education setting. He participated in the vo-tech program and has shown an aptitude for carpentry. He would like to make a career out of woodworking. Darnell’s KidsVoice advocate successfully argued that Darnell’s IEP be updated to include a specialized math goal focused on better learning fractions—an essential aspect of carpentry.

Mid-year, Darnell’s foster care family indicated that they could not continue to house him. Darnell had made such a positive impression that one of the school staff members offered to serve as Darnell’s foster parent. KidsVoice helped facilitate this transition and, after several successful months, advocated for the foster parent’s appointment as Educational Decision Maker. Darnell is thriving in his new home. He is running track and playing football.

His new foster mom passed along something Darnell said: he was honored to be part of a team—“no one ever cheered for me before this.”

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