It takes a whole community of us here at BCFES to help ensure access, retention, and graduation of all students with a lived experience in foster care. To show our appreciation, we are featuring fellow staff members to share a little bit of their world and the passion they have for the students we serve.
Bexar County Court Monitor at College Bound Docket
Could you share a little bit about yourself?
E: My name is Eliseo Mata. My background is in social services, and I have my Master’s in Clinical Health Counseling. I work as a Bexar County Court Monitor at College Bound Docket. We help youth who have aged out of foster care get access to higher education, such as university, college, trade school, etc. We help them focus on their education to help them enter society and be self-reliant. The state provides a lot of resources for these youth, but we take those resources and put them into action.
Can you tell us more about College Bound Docket?
E: The College Bound Docket program consists of two parts: our pre-college services and our college services.
As part of our pre-college services, we screen and assess 11th and 12th grade students who have been referred to our program. The program is 100% voluntary and they must have an interest in pursuing a trade or academic path. From there, we help them engage in dialogue with the court and the judge so they can share their educational endeavors. We help them tour different schools and explore options for majors, teach them about college application processes and deadlines, and make sure they find a good match for their educational needs. If they have an immediate need for educational support, we figure out how to remove any barriers to access, including paying for tutors if that’s what they need. Because this is a big period of transition, we also connect youth with therapists that can help them navigate changes such as leaving a place they have grown comfortable staying, going off to a new city on their own, living with unfamiliar people, and more.
When our youth are accepted to college, they continue to receive most of the same assistance. Even if they go to college outside of Bexar County, we engage with them during the holidays and whenever they’re in town and help them reconnect with the judge.
What does your typical day-to-day look like at College Bound Docket?
E: What’s most productive for me is applying a different theme to each day. For example, in one day, I’ll focus on all high school seniors in our program. I’ll check in with everything that needs to be done for their deadlines, as well as follow up with the seniors who need help. On another day, I’ll focus on juniors by checking in on their grades and organizing college tours for them during summer break.
It’s important for me to keep organized and check in with everyone, so some days, I’ll reach out to everyone with encouragement, to follow up on something, or just to chat. Of course, if anyone has an urgent need, we always prioritize safety and wellbeing and make sure that gets resolved first.
Eliseo, thank you for taking the time to share your work with us. We appreciate you and all of the work you do!