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For Students in Foster Care, A Helping Hand in the High School Admissions Process

NYC's Dept. of Ed is working to provide children in foster care extra attention as they seek high school placement.

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Volunteer Melodie Ampuero, a project associate at Advocates for Children, spent most of the day with one eighth-grade girl from Brooklyn, sitting with her in a counseling session that Ampuero said could have been more helpful. The counselor was more familiar with Manhattan schools and when they asked about one school in particular he wasn’t able to find it in the high school directory, she said.

“They had laptops, but no internet,” Ampuero said. “It would have been helpful to just Google it and look it up right there.”

Ampuero said her student had her heart set on attending a school in Queens, where most of her friends lived and where her sister had gone to school. She said she did her best to steer the girl toward schools in Brooklyn that would be more practical to attend, but afterwards she worried whether the message had gotten through.

Ampuero praised the program and thought it could be expanded. She said she worried that the one-time service wasn’t enough. Volunteers were not instructed to follow up with the students they met to make sure the students actually applied to schools and made all of their deadlines.

“Applications aren’t due until December and a lot can happen between now and then,” said Ampuero. “A lot of [the students in foster care] can fall through the cracks and if no one is there to follow up on them, then we have no idea of knowing if they still need assistance.”

Geoffrey Decker is a GothamSchools staff writer.