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Home > Advocacy > Education for Children and Youth in Foster Care

 
 

Education and Children in Care

In addition to the abuse and neglect that children entering foster care experience, educational placements which should serve as a source of stability are often disrupted, causing even more instability and uncertainty. Youth in care have reported moving through an average of 9 different schools during their tenure in foster care.

Many times enrollment to new schools is delayed because of required health and immunization records. Other obstacles to enrollment include education credits that cannot be verified or accepted by the new school, as well as credits getting lost or never transferred. Multiple school changes not only disrupt academics, but also cause youth to lose important adult figures, such as teachers, mentors, athletics and other extracurricular activities. The result is that youth in foster care experience poor educational outcomes, completing high school at a rate significantly below their peers.

The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (PL 110-351) laid the foundation to address these challenges. Federal law now requires that the youth's individual case plan address the best educational placement, and that the child be immediately enrolled in a new school when a change is most appropriate. It also provides that foster care maintenance payments include "reasonable travel for the child to remain in the school in which the child is enrolled at the time of his or her placement." More recently, the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-34) clarifies that this educational stability provision applies at every placement change, not just the initial placement into care. While significant strides have been made recently towards bettering educational outcomes for youth in foster care, we must continue to support youth in foster care to achieve the critical well-being measures of graduation and post-secondary education.

In Depth Legislation and Administration Action CWLA Advocacy Archived Resources For more information e-mail govaffairs@cwla.org.


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