Lydia Cincore Templeton is the Director of the Children Youth and Family Collaborative (CYFC), based in Los Angeles. Lydia serves as Co-Chair to the Section's Education Committee.
Where are you from? How have your experiences here, or throughout your upbringing, influenced your passions and aspirations today?
I was born, reared and a very proud native of the Crescent City, New Orleans, Louisiana. My parents influenced my passion to serve with a laser focus on serving, loving and caring for people as one of my top priorities. All eight of my father’s siblings contributed financially to his education. Because of their sacrifices, he received degrees from Xavier University and Columbia University in the 1940s. For the remainder of his earthly life, my father provided financially for his family and siblings, all while possessing a community commitment and directly assisting youth with the college access process to ensure that any child in our neighborhood and beyond who wanted to attend college did so with support from the community. We had to share our father with so many others. My father developed programs for colleges and universities who sought to integrate and increase diversity. Through his actions and teachings, he instilled in me the importance of fulfilling a purpose driven life. Throughout my upbringing, my father stressed the importance of education. In fact, he was so influential that I thought college was the automatic next level of education which was mandatory. It was not until my graduation night from high school did, I realize that some of my classmates had a choice about pursuing their education. When I questioned my father, he said the only choice that I had was to decide the college of my choice in New Orleans. While I do not think that response would suffice in 2022, the importance of having a good education is still important, especially for children and youth in foster care, living in in poverty (or impoverished communities) and those facing challenges through no fault of their own. This laser focus on service and the importance of education shaped who I am, what I do and why I seek educational justice and equity for innocent children and youth in foster care.
What drives you?
I am driven by my faith and my belief that all people are born good and entitled to justice, equity and respect. I fight for justice in education for the vulnerable and voiceless who, because of economics or circumstances, lack exposure, information and an understanding that having at least a high school education is the foundation to live a productive life. Because less than 46% of youth in foster care graduate from high school and less than 2% graduate from college, we face a crisis for innocent children. Removing a child from homes because of child abuse and neglect should not destroy the future of the child in a secondary, systemic form of child abuse. It is our collective responsibility as human beings to care for ALL children.
What is one thing most people do not know about you that you feel they should?
I am dedicated to coaching and supporting young employees and believe that compassionate management must return to the workplace. We may not be able to recapture the days of our parents who worked on jobs 30 and 40 years, but we might be able to role model for this generation that moving jobs every two years is not a requirement for success. Employers can demonstrate we care about the employee experience, and that message must come from the leader. When I launched this intentional effort at our agency, I made one mistake and that was counting on others to spread this message. I believe we must speak through memos, conversations, pop up dialogues and visits, and sit with employees individually to let them hear the vision of the leader seeking to maintain equity while focusing on the employee experience. While it will take time we do not have, the benefits will eventually be realized.
When you look back, what is it that you want your advocacy and professional career to stand for?
I want my advocacy and professional career to stand for providing Local Educational Agencies and community-based organizations serving youth in foster care with a model they can adapt to support youth in care with completing their education while eradicating the underachievement of foster youth in high school and college. Our Board of Directors seeks to replicate the March of Dimes as they were successful in eradicating polio. We believe that the crisis in education for foster youth can be addressed by successful partnerships with local educational agencies implementing an evidence-based program model such as A. R. I S. S. E. ( pronounced arise), Academic Remediation Intervention and Support Services Education Program Model that has an 85 to 100% high school graduation rate.
What is one issue which you care about or work most on and why?
I care about providing youth in foster care with information, opportunities and support to complete their education so they can possess the tools they need thrive in their adult lives.
What do you feel is the greatest challenge facing this issue today?
The greatest challenge remains those driving the agenda who are creating culturally irrelevant solutions and methods without engaging stakeholders and people at the grassroots who have lived experiences and the true commitment to implementing meaningfully effective solutions.
In what corners do you find the greatest support in propelling these issues you work on? In other words, who are your most frequent allies?
I find the greatest support from caring persons in the legal community, faith community and community-based organizations.
What CRSJ project(s) are you working on? Or, what have you undertaken in CRSJ that you found the most rewarding to have worked on? Are there any upcoming events or projects you want us all to know about?
I am extremely excited about our upcoming project in which the Education Committee will spotlight lawyers who share their stories of Adversity to Success highlighting the importance of education. This project, a brainchild of our Section Chair, Beth Whittenbury, hopes to motivate and inspire youth in foster care, system-involved youth, and homeless youth to explore education as a key to achieving their dreams. Our youth are enamored with lights, celebrity, fame and sports as a means to achieve success. The ABA Education Committee seeks to connect with youth through personal stories of academic achievement.