Professional Development – Educational Stability for Children and Youth in Foster Care in Pennsylvania

Professional Development

National Foster Care Month Webinars

It’s a Journey! Helping Children and Youth in Foster Care Reach Their Potential

Thursday, May 12, 2022, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. ET (U.S. and Canada) | Virtual


Motivational speaker and Founder of Clever Jam Communications Jamerika Haynes-Lewis will show how professionals can best support children and youth on their education journey. Using personal experiences and storytelling, Jamerika will describe the unique circumstances youth in foster care face and practical tips to help them develop and meet their goals. As a former foster youth, college graduate, business owner, and current national pageant titleholder, Jamerika will share her personal story on the challenges she faced and what led her to achieving her dreams in education and beyond.

Presenter: Jamerika Haynes-Lewis, Founder, Clever Jam Communications, Seattle, Washington

A native of Tacoma, Washington, Jamerika Haynes-Lewis has more than 10 years of experience as a journalist and advocate for children in foster care. While growing up in foster care, Jamerika was determined to have a different life than the one she experienced. She put herself through college earning a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Washington State University. As the owner of Clever Jam Communications, Jamerika offers strategic communications guidance, motivational speaking, and facilitation. Currently she is USA Ambassador 2021 Ms. national queen through the USA Ambassador Pageant. Her platform is “A Chance to Succeed: Empowering Youth in Foster Care.” Additionally, she is a commercial actress and model.

Skill Builder – Learn the Lingo of Pennsylvania’s Foster Care System

Friday, May 20, 2022, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. ET (U.S. and Canada) | Virtual


Let’s demystify common terminology and procedures of the Pennsylvania child welfare and foster care system. Presented by Alyssa “AK” Holstay, Esq., attorney and legal training specialist with Voce/SWAN Prime Contract, the session will include discussions related to the relevant functions of individuals working with children and youth in foster care and associated vocabulary with the greater child welfare system. Attendees will receive unique insight into typical lingo and how its application is important to educators assisting students in foster care.

Presenter: Alyssa “AK” Holstay, Esq., Attorney and Legal Training Specialist with Voce on behalf of the SWAN Prime Contract, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Alyssa H. (“AK”) Holstay, Esq., currently serves as a legal training specialist with Voce through the Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN) Prime Contract. In this role, Alyssa authors the monthly legal report and designs and delivers training to the full spectrum of professionals in the child welfare system, concentrating her efforts in the Central and South Central regions of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining SWAN, Alyssa practiced several areas of law including criminal and family law. She also served as a parents’ attorney in child welfare matters at both the trial and appellate court levels. Alyssa is a graduate of Shippensburg University and the Widener Commonwealth School of Law.

Recorder Webinars/Events

Foster Care Point of Contact Mid-Year Check-In

Hear about reminders, updates, and available tools to support school stability for students in foster care. Learn from each other by sharing challenges, successes, and strategies. Gain an understanding of efforts to ensure educational stability for students in foster care throughout Pennsylvania. Learn about new resources from the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law.

Mid-Year Check-In Recording | Mid-Year Check-In Resources

To and Through: Creating Conditions that Support Higher Education Success for Youth with Experience in Foster Care

Hear from members of the Pennsylvania Youth Advisory Board (YAB) about their journey to and through higher education. The Pennsylvania YAB is comprised of current and former youth in foster care, ages 14-21. YAB youth leaders educate, advocate and form partnerships to create positive change in the substitute care system. This training will feature a moderated panel of YAB alumni discussing their experiences transitioning to higher education as well as how educators and child welfare professionals can create conditions that support youth with experience in foster care to and through higher education. The webinar will also highlight key information pertaining to Pennsylvania’s new Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program (FosterEd). Act 48 and NASW credits are available for those attending the webinar in its entirety.

Making Quality Best Interest Determinations: Implementation of BIDs during COVID and Beyond

Four years into the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act’s protections for students in foster care, we have made great strides but ongoing efforts and planning are needed to successfully implement school stability policies to support students in foster care. This session features an in-depth discussion of the Best Interest Determination (BID) process, including an overview of tools to help schools and child welfare agencies collaborate around these important decisions, review of BID best practices by school district and child welfare agency points of contact, and discussion on COVID-19’s effect on BIDs and ways to help students in foster care now and in the upcoming school year.

Employing Self-Compassion and Relationship Building to Address Trauma in Youth

“Trauma-Informed PA: A Plan to Make Pennsylvania a Trauma-Informed, Healing-Centered State” was released July 2020 by the Office of Advocacy and Reform. The plan presents a continuum starting with becoming trauma aware and moving toward being a healing-centered state. This presentation will utilize the continuum presented in the plan to address relationship strategies when working with youth, as well as strategies to move from compassion fatigue to compassion resilience to assist adults who are working with youth who have experienced trauma.

Begin the Journey: The Pennsylvania Department of Education Equitable Practices Hub

The Pennsylvania Department of Education released the Equitable Practices Hub in September 2020. The hub is organized by six equity pillars of practice: 1) General Equity Practices, 2) Self-Awareness, 3) Data Practices, 4) Family and Community Engagement, 5) Academic Equity, and 6) Disciplinary Equity. This session will provide an overview of the hub and the importance of equity in Pennsylvania schools.

Creating and Exploring Local Tools to Ensure Educational Stability for Youth in Foster Care

In this webinar, attendees will explore tools and procedures created locally to aid in the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act’s foster care provisions. Discover why these local tools help to ensure educational stability for youth in foster care and take away ideas to create new procedures or to integrate into existing practices. Attendees will also learn how the Educational Stability Regional Foster Care Offices can assist local education agencies and county children and youth agencies in reaching their goals to provide educational stability.

ESSA’s Foster Care Provisions 101

In this webinar attendees will be provided with an overview of the protections LEAs and child welfare agencies must provide to youth in foster care in order to ensure educational stability. The presenter will also review the history and implementation of ESSA’s foster care provisions in Pennsylvania as well as introduce best practices regarding implementation.

The Every Student Succeeds Act: Educational Stability for Foster Care Youth in Pennsylvania — Local Points of Contact Responsibilities

This webinar reviews and reinforces the responsibilities and best practice expectations of Pennsylvania local education agency foster care points of contact for ensuring the educational stability for foster care youth, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015.

Ensuring Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care: Transportation Procedures

Signed into law on December 10, 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, and includes new provisions for children in foster care that complement requirements in the Fostering Connections Act of 2008. These provisions take effect on December 10, 2016. (You can learn more about these new provisions and what they mean for states, districts, and schools through joint guidance released on June 23, 2016, from the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services.)

U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services Events and Webinars

Webinar Series on ESSA Provisions for Foster Care Youth

An Overview of the ED/HHS Joint Guidance

Transportation Procedures

Effective Collaboration

Education and Child Welfare Points of Contact

Best Interest Determinations and Immediate Enrollment