I am a PTA dad and foster parent from Maryland. As the immediate past president of Maryland PTA and the current president of the Maryland Foster (Resource) Parent Association, I use my 30 years of PTA experience to support Maryland's foster parents as they strive to provide the youth in their care with the safety, permanency, wellbeing and educational support our children need and deserve.
As an informed volunteer PTA leader and foster parent/child welfare advocate I am frequently invited by the Maryland Department of Human Resources, the Maryland State Department of Education, the Baltimore City Department of Social Services and the University of Maryland to provide training, advice and input on policy and program development as well as share foster parenting experiences.
As an education advocate for all children with a focus on foster youth I believe PTA's National Standards for Family -- School Partnerships is one of the foundational supports to help foster families increase and sustain academic achievement for the youth in out-of-home placement. Research indicates many foster youth are sometimes one to two grade levels behind and often are two years behind in their reading and math skills. To help address these educational deficiencies, with the support of National PTA, Maryland PTA, the Maryland Foster (Resource) Parent Association and the Maryland Department of Human Resources I led the effort to charter the Nation's first "foster parent PTA," the Maryland Resource Parent PTSA. This community PTA will have the benefit of all the National PTA programs and will also provide the very specialized and focused information foster families need to support the educational needs of foster youth.
It is the foster family that makes the educational difference and it is the PTA that will be there to provide support. It is the foster parent who makes certain the child is dressed, gets to school every day, builds the child's self-esteem and social skills, gets the homework done, buys the prom dress, attends PTA meetings etc. It is the foster parent who guides our foster children from preschool into post school with all of the trials, tribulations and challenges that comes with that effort. We need the foster parent PTA.
While foster parents are providing grassroots support it is also important to know what is happening on the higher policy levels. The "foster parent PTA" will provide information concerning the federal policy efforts to strengthen parent engagement and foster care and at the same time provide foster parents with grassroots information to establish a strong home-school connection.
Over the next few years the Maryland Resource Parent PTSA will become a major educational stakeholder offering child welfare training, promoting effective parent engagement and act as a resource and referral center to support the team of Maryland's 6,859 foster youth, the families who provide the healing homes and the thousands of team members that make up the systems of care within the child welfare community.
Sam Macer has been recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change for his work in the PTA.