From Chuck Knapp, JAG-K President/CEO

TOPEKA (May 1, 2018) – Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas helps students prepare for successful futures. All our JAG-K students are facing multiple barriers to reaching their full potential, but in January we started a pilot program for Kansas students facing some of the biggest challenges — students in foster care. Other than the situations that placed them in care, lack of academic success is one of the most significant obstacles facing these students.

Less than 51 percent of Kansas students in foster care graduate from high school. One of the primary reasons for this seems to be the loss of academic progress with each new placement. With each new foster care placement comes a new set of teachers, restarting classes and more inconsistency in the lives of these students. 

The JAG-K Success Academy started with 10 high school students in Wichita USD 259 schools in January. All 10 students were behind academically and in a variety of living arrangements, including group home and family placement. A JAG-K Success Academy Career Specialist was hired specifically for this group of students, regardless of where the students get placed in Kansas.

The JAG-K Success Academy addresses two primary causes of low academic success for students in care.

1)   Up to two core classes are taught concurrently through an online learning system to ensure continuity and continued academic progress. 

2)   They have a consistent adult in their lives, helping them keep up with their academic work online and in the brick and mortar school, where they take elective classes and can participate in extra-curricular activities. 

Since starting in January, seven of the 10 students are now on track to graduate. Fortunately, they have all also been enrolled in the JAG-K programs at their schools for an extra layer of support. There are numerous partners in this initial phase of the JAG-K Success Academy Partnership. I want to thank USD 259, St. Francis Community Services, Governor Jeff Colyer and the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) for their assistance. The pilot could not have launched without their support.  In an exciting recent development, the Kansas Legislature recently provided funding for an expansion of the pilot in 2018-19 with up to 75 students in different areas of the state. There has been strong bipartisan support for JAG-K and our new Success Academy. We appreciate the Governor, the Legislature, and our school partners for helping us improve the lives and futures of Kansas students.