Stay-in-School program builds opportunity for local students

Equity and OpportunityWhen a student is in danger of not graduating from high school in south King County, the Stay-in-School program is there to help. Stay_in_School

The federally-funded and County-operated program identifies students who are at risk of dropping out based on their grades and/or not passing the High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE) in their Junior year.

Each year about 120 youth in King County receive assistance through the program, and its results are impressive: in the 2013/14 academic year, 86 percent of participants completed their high school diplomas and 82 percent went on to college or employment.

“The Stay-in-School program provides students with the education support they need to finish high school and then go on to college or employment,” said Jennifer Hill, the Youth Programs Coordinator for the Department of Community and Human Services’ Employment and Education Resources.

“It fits the Department of Community and Human Services’ mission as well as the County’s mission of equity and social justice,” Hill said.

To qualify for enrollment in the program, students must come from a very low-income family (an income of $30,000 or under for a family of four), and be a legal resident between the ages of 16-21.

Once a student is enrolled in the program, students have access to a wide range of resources, ranging from financial help with testing fees and school supplies to mentoring and help finding work or internships.

Hill said intervening while students are still in school as opposed to later on is important and can prevent lifelong problems.

“Not graduating high school usually leads to negative life problems. I think there are a lot of negative consequences when a student doesn’t graduate from school and move on to college. Right now in King County, approximately 70 percent of jobs require some type of post-secondary education,” Hill said.

The Stay-in-School program is a clear example of King County’s Equity and Social Justice Initiative in action and our goal of providing opportunity for all. Last year, 87 percent of participants in the program self-identified as people of color and 41 percent of the youth identify as refugees or immigrants. Additionally, 28 percent of enrolled youth have a physical or learning disability.

The Stay-in-School Program is currently offered in high schools in Federal Way, Kent, Renton and SeaTac and employs three social workers, each in charge of an area. To learn more about the Stay-in-School program, click here.