Why School Matters: A Stable Place – Part II

A couple of months ago I talked about my own experiences with school and why I think it is important to all kids, especially the kids we serve. I talked about how school was a normalizing influence on me—somewhere safe that I could go. It was a source of stability that I draw upon today. Although I don’t get to see them that often, I have a great deal of connection to the people from my high school, and contrary to some, I actually like connecting with them on FaceBook. Some of them even support Denver CASA and offer other kinds of support. I can’t imagine my life without them.

Now, someone raised in a military home might not have had that experience. There are also people who did not relate to their high school and have no connection to it. I can appreciate that. Yet the kids we serve, as you all know, have no stability or they have experienced very little stability in their lives. For many of them, there’s not a whole lot of familiarity and the people in their life come and go. Many of them have been removed from their parents, their brothers and sisters, and even if they are fortunate enough to be placed with kin, this placement can change just as quickly as a foster care. In short, there is not a lot of consistency despite everyone’s best efforts.

When I think about stability for the kids we serve, I think about a CASA Volunteer. Someone who can adapt to all the changes and still be there as they heal from their past and find a permanent home. Yet when I think about stability of “place” for these kids, especially for those kids right in the middle of their case, I don’t tend to associate it with home as much as I associate it with school. Part of the reason that placements lack stability is that there are a limited number of families and a limited number of homes. It’s not always possible to place siblings together and they can be moved to parts of town very far away. I can also recall

situations in which the placement was positive, but the different children living in the home didn’t get along, and so someone has to move. Sometimes the needs of the children are so severe that a special home has to be found, but there is no space, and so the child is placed temporarily somewhere until it opens up.

Schools are designed to support and help all children. While it’s true that schools can be a poor fit as well, and sometimes it takes a real advocate to get exactly what the child needs, the fact is that schools do have resources that can benefit our children. In addition, a school can also provide stability in a way that no other place can sometime. The number of resources and specialist within a school district, especially within Denver, is staggering. A lot of people within schools really know what they are doing and many of them are sensitive to the fact that children are coming from all kinds of backgrounds.