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The Student News Site of Santa Maria High School

The Breeze

The Student News Site of Santa Maria High School

The Breeze

The Student News Site of Santa Maria High School

The Breeze

California Foster Youth Education Summit Empowers SMJUHSD Students

SMJUHSDs+educators+and+students+in+Sacramento+for+the+California+Foster+Youth+Education+Summit.%0Aphoto+provided+by+arcy+pineda
SMJUHSD’s educators and students in Sacramento for the California Foster Youth Education Summit. photo provided by arcy pineda

The 2024 California Foster Youth Education Summit brought together students and educators from the Santa Maria Joint Unified School District (SMJUHSD) to Sacramento, providing a platform for collaboration, learning, and advocacy.

In coalition with Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley (FBSMV), a nonprofit organization fostering healthy relationships and support systems for youth, parents, educators, and the community, SMJUHSD students attended the summit to address the unique challenges faced by foster youth in the education system.

This year’s summit, held on April 14-16th, saw the convergence of educators, state representatives, and students from across California dive into strategies to better serve this vulnerable population and ensure compliance with state laws such as AB 490 and AB 2083.

“We recognize that one of today’s most vulnerable and vital populations is our youth,” said Julieta Delgadillo, Santa Maria High School teacher. “Through our partnership with Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley, we have been able to comply with state laws and more importantly, implement processes and restorative approaches to build support systems that directly impact the lives of our students.”

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The summit featured two keynote speakers whose personal experiences resonated deeply with attendees. Dr. John Gaines, renowned for his motivational talks and community outreach initiatives, emphasized the power of resilience and personal empowerment. Dee Hankins, who overcame the challenges of the foster care system to graduate from California State University, Long Beach, shared his inspiring journey and mission to empower every student to reach their full potential.

“One of the highlights of the summit was the testimony from one of our own students, Jaida Solis, who spoke in front of 900 educators, state representatives, and fellow students,” added Regina Salazar, FBSMV Program Specialist. “Jaida shared her journey and the invaluable support she received from her mentor at FBSMV, demonstrating the transformative impact of mentorship and community support.”

Students from all four of SMJUHSD’s comprehensive sites were present, representing their schools with pride and dedication to advocating for foster youth rights and support.

Shana Pompa, FBSMV Programs Director, who planned all arrangements for the SMJUHSD delegation to successfully attend the event, expressed her enthusiasm for the students’ participation, stating, “It’s been an honor to support our students in attending the summit. Their dedication to advocating for themselves and their peers showcases the resilience and strength within our community.”

The 2024 California Foster Youth Education Summit underscored the importance of collaboration, advocacy, and support in creating a more inclusive and equitable education system for all students, especially those in foster care.

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