Many Americans faced uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but perhaps none more so than children in the child-welfare system.
In addition to a focus on addressing client health and housing stability for our older youth during that time, our staff stretched themselves to address the detrimental impacts of pandemic-related educational issues.
For many KidsVoice youth, remote schooling meant being cut off not only from education but from a place of safety, perhaps their only meal of the day, mental health counseling and support, school nurses, and services for developmental delays. Those negative impacts fell disproportionately on low-income families, African American and Hispanic households, and students who receive special education services.
With our clients attending 70 different school districts in Allegheny County and beyond, KidsVoice mitigated these educational risks by reassigning specific staff to:
- Become experts on COVID developments in districts our clients most frequently attend
- Develop relationships with district administrators
- Regularly bring to them a list of client needs from across our office
- Pursue COVID Compensatory Services (CCS)
In addition to agreements with numerous school districts to provide CCS for individual clients with IEPs or 504 plans who did not receive legally required services during the pandemic, our advocacy resulted in a district-wide amicable settlement with the county’s largest school district. This agreement will make a positive impact for hundreds of KidsVoice clients who receive special education services—and also for thousands more students who receive special education services in the district who are not our clients.
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