YELP Teaches the Importance of Least Restrictive Environment for Youth in Short Term Residential Therapeutic Programs

On April 15, 2024, advanced clinic student Ashley Thompson (JD 2024), Youth and Education Law Project (YELP) supervising attorney Abigail Trillin, and Dylan Quigley, a staff attorney at San Diego Volunteer Lawyers Program, presented at the 2024 California Foster Youth Summit in Sacramento, California. Entitled “Making LRE a Reality for Youth in STRTPs,” the presentation had as its goals: (1) to review the laws that protect foster youth’s ability to access an appropriate educational placement; (2) to learn strategies for turning those legal rights into practical realities; and (3) to acknowledge the changing landscape of education due to the increase of online schooling.

Ashley Thompson
Ashley Thompson presenting at 2024 California Foster Youth Summit in Sacramento, April 2024

Ashley presented a vignette of hypothetical student-based experiences of youth in STRTPs and also discussed the harms of online schooling. Abigail discussed the legal protections for all students in foster care, such as the right to attend programs operated by the local education agency or attend the school of origin. Dylan discussed special protections for students with disabilities and the process for placing a student in alternative schools or programs.

The theme of this presentation began in January 2023, when YELP launched a project to investigate a short-term residential treatment facility (STRTP) that required youth in its care to attend school online, on-site, and in the administrative office. YELP met with SLS alum Angie Schwartz (JD 2004), who currently serves as the Deputy Director of Children and Family Services Division at California Department of Social Services, to bring this issue to her attention.

Our April 2024 presentation provided California educators, social services agents, educational rights holders, and other advocates with the tools to advocate for equitable educational opportunities for foster youth in STRTPs. Attendees shared that they found the presentation extremely insightful and helpful.

Ashley Thompson (JD '24)
Ashley Thompson (JD ’24)