With only a month of school left, John’s grades had plateaued at 60%. He was dangerously close to failing out of the eighth grade. He was disrespecting his grandmother. He seemed totally disinterested in school. It was time for his Kinship Care Case Worker to ask some hard questions. As so often the case, John’s performance in school had little to do with his ability in school. John’s dad was in prison, and John had not seen him in almost a year. His grandmother was resistant to the paternal relationship, monitoring letters and refusing visits. But John missed his dad, and he needed a serious morale boost if graduating was to be an option.
John’s caseworker networked with John’s guidance counselor and the NYC Children’s Services Child of Incarcerated Parents Program (CHIPP). Eventually, John’s grandmother agreed that he could go see his father. They picked John up from school and gave him the good news. John hugged his grandmother enthusiastically exclaiming, “Thank you! I love you!” His caseworker simply smiled.
After months of praying, John’s father’s wish of seeing his son came true. He cried onto John’s coat as the embraced in the incarceration facility. After they settled in, the conversation quickly turned to education. “The thing that would make me the most proud, John, is if you had a diploma in your hand the next time you come to visit.” When the visit was over, John walked out with a look of calm determination. In four short weeks, John raised his grade to a 79% and passed all of his classes. Graduated and heading to high school, John thanks Kinship Care for taking the time to really listen to him as a whole person. His caseworker was able to see him as more than a struggling student and did what it took to support and advocate for John’s heart as well as his mind.