KISR! is a partnership between Hamilton County Job and Family Services, Cincinnati Public Schools, the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati and Hamilton County Juvenile Court. Its goal is to help kids in foster care overcome common educational challenges by building interventions and supports to boost schools’ capacity to respond to those challenges. KISR! matches students with JFS educational specialists, who track students’ progress and navigate any issues that arise.
This work landed the program in this alert to judges put out by the American Bar Association and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. The alert focused on the importance of educational advocacy for kids in foster care and how courts can work with child welfare agencies and schools to improve outcomes.
Some of the comments about KISR!:
“The child welfare agency has taken steps to stabilize children’s placements and avoid disrupting their school placements, such as arranging performance-based contracts with foster care providers that give incentives for creating stable homes and school environments, arranging after hours supervised visitation and therapeutic appointments to avoid school disruptions, and grouping foster care providers by school boundaries to help identify providers in the same school district when placements change.”
“It has revised its policies and procedures for making best interest decisions about a child’s school placement when the foster care placement changes to ensure thorough, consistent practice throughout the agency… Cross-system data sharing, supporting high school graduation and post-secondary success,
engaging youth in education planning, setting clear education expectations and ensuring accountability, addressing special education, school discipline and enrollment needs and celebrating student achievement are also hallmarks of KISR!’s approach. Through these efforts, KISR! is transforming school outcomes for children in foster care in Cincinnati Public Schools.”
JFS currently has three KISR! workers – Todd Forrester, Allyson Benson and Kyle Hildebrand. They were honored recently for National Social Work Month by their supervisor, Ashley Stamper, who called them diligent, collaborative, diplomatic and professional.