It's August, and that means students across Georgia are heading back to school.
For many children, the beginning of school can cause both excitement and anxiety as they face new teachers, new peers and often new schools. After a summer of relaxing and fun, it can often be a difficult transition back to the world of text books, papers and tests.
The start of school can bring additional stresses to the children LSG serves, who are already experiencing major disruptions and challenging circumstances in their lives.
“We have several children who are starting new school this year in our care in Albany,” says Lauren Welch, Foster Care Recruiter, LSG Albany. “I spoke with one of our children in foster care last week, and she said she’s very excited about starting eighth grade, but very worried about her new school.”
When children are placed in foster homes in their own communities, they are able to remain at their same school and with teachers that know them. Being at the same school provides stability that is often lacking on other areas of their lives.
“Sometimes their teacher is the only safe place they know in this difficult and uncertain time,” says Welch.
However, with not enough foster homes in each county, often children are moved out of their community, and thus many children in foster care must start at a new school.
Whether a child is moving schools or staying at the same school, LSG foster parents help ease the transition for children in their care and provide security and love at home.
For our refugee families, the start of school brings new challenges as parents learn to navigate a new system and work to prepare their children for a new environment. Refugee children may be behind their peers academically and still developing their English skills. In addition, most are dealing with the emotional stress of war and violence they were exposed to in their home countries and the difficulties experienced at the refugee camps.
Case workers and other staff in our Atlanta and Savannah office spend the weeks leading up to school preparing families and children for the first day. LSG assist parents with registration and scheduling any necessary testing.
“This week has been very special,” says Crispin Wilondja, Refugee Services Case Manager, LSG. “LSG’s case managers and interns took the students to their local schools. Parents and students were very happy to meet with the school staff for the first time. They discovered their classes and their bus route. So, they were ready to start school this week.”
According to LSG’s Karen Kouzmanoff, Refugee Services Case Manager in our Savannah office, the guidance and assistance that LSG provides help alleviate refugee parents’ anxiety for their children, particularly for students who are moving to a new school or who are attending an American school for the first time.
For many of LSG’s families, providing the necessary school supplies can be another area of stress. With the help from church congregations and other community groups, LSG is able provide backpacks and needed supplies for children in foster care, in our family intervention services program and our refugee families, ensuring that students have what they need for a successful school year.
This year we were fortunate to receive donations from many congregations in Georgia and community groups as well. LSG thanks all of our supporters who donated supplies for our families. We wish each and every child a wonderful and successful school year.