School caters to child welfare students

April 6, 2009 3:06:23 PM PDT
The South Bronx has a new charter school, one that boasts of a rigorous academic program. But what makes the Mott Haven Academy Charter School even more unique is that it's designed to meet the needs of at-risk students who are currently in the foster care and child welfare system.They do activities to help the children focus on the school day ahead.

"And we do this daily, because we want to make sure that no matter what kids are experiencing at home, that they feel like this environment is as stable and as caring as it can possibly be," principal Jessica Nauiokas said.

"It's a really fun school, and it's really educational," student Adrian Acosta said. "I love it."

It is the first charter school created to include children of the child welfare system. Some are in foster care and some are in transition.

And there is extensive counseling for the children and their families, which is what you might expect from the not-for-profit that holds the charter to this school.

It is a project of the New York Foundling, the 140-year-old child welfare agency. This is its first year, opening with kindergarten and first grade.

"We can address those issues that occur outside of the school that have, for generations, undermined the educational achievement of kids in the child welfare system," New York Foundling Executive Director Bill Baccaglini said.

They also come from caring foster families, who entered them in the charter school lottery for admission, and from other neighborhood families.

"It makes me feel very comfortable and very confident that my child is getting the education that he needs," parent Patria Sanchez said.

The school will expand by one grade each year, up to the 8th grade.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


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