Courts play a unique and necessary role in helping to improve educational outcomes for children and youth in foster care. Leadership provided by the courts in guiding change efforts, in building and communicating a shared vision for reform, and in marshaling resources is vital to creating and implementing sustained systems change.
An example of one jurisdiction exercising this leadership to bring education issues to the forefront is the Pima County Juvenile Court based in Tucson, Arizona. In four years, the county went from simply having an interest in improving educational outcomes for children and youth in foster care to making real improvements in courtroom policy and practice.
This document chronicles these education reform efforts and offers some suggestions to other jurisdictions that want to design and implement their own reform initiatives. Specifically, this document:
- Outlines the need to focus on the education of children and youth in foster care
- Provides an overview of the Pima County Juvenile Court
- Describes the education reform efforts in Pima County
- Discusses the impact of these efforts on court practice
- Offers implementation lessons learned and strategies for success
- Identifies next steps and a vision for future reform efforts in Pima County