Indiana Report Identifies Educational Barriers for Young People in Foster Care

Posted April 26, 2019, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

A new report identifies educational barriers for Indiana children in foster care

How well are state edu­ca­tion sys­tems serv­ing stu­dents in fos­ter care? Indi­ana has tak­en an impor­tant step to find­ing out, releas­ing a detailed report on edu­ca­tion­al out­comes for Indi­an’s young peo­ple in fos­ter care that advo­cates say should help lead­ers bet­ter allo­cate resources to ensure youth grad­u­ate from high school and pre­pare for careers.

Indi­ana Con­nect­ed By 25, the lead agency for the Casey Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Oppor­tu­ni­ties Ini­tia­tive® in the state, advo­cat­ed for the report. Indi­ana needs to ensure youth in fos­ter care are not denied equi­table edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties due to their involve­ment with the child wel­fare sys­tem,” says Brent Kent, CEO of the organization.

The report, man­dat­ed by a 2018 state law, found that Indi­ana schools were more like­ly to take actions against young peo­ple in fos­ter care that inter­rupt or dilute their edu­ca­tion, including:

  • expelling them at twice the rate of their peers;
  • approv­ing grad­u­a­tion waivers ― which allow stu­dents to grad­u­ate with­out meet­ing all require­ments and that may leave them with­out nec­es­sary skills — at rates high­er than their peers not in fos­ter care (21% com­pared to 8%); and
  • hold­ing them back at twice the rate of their peers.

As a result of these and oth­er bar­ri­ers, about 65 per­cent of Indi­ana stu­dents liv­ing in fos­ter care grad­u­ate from high school, com­pared with 88% of stu­dents over­all in the state.

A recent Casey Foun­da­tion report, Future Sav­ings: The Eco­nom­ic Poten­tial of Suc­cess­ful Tra­di­tions from Fos­ter Care to Adult­hood, found that if young peo­ple tran­si­tion­ing from fos­ter care grad­u­at­ed at the same rate as peers not in fos­ter care, 5,300 more would have high school diplo­mas each year nation­al­ly, with a $2.17 bil­lion increase in col­lec­tive life­time earnings.

Sup­port­ing young peo­ple in their edu­ca­tion is always a good invest­ment,” said Leslie Gross, direc­tor of the Jim Casey Ini­tia­tive. By tak­ing a hard look at the data, Indi­ana can come togeth­er to make sure young peo­ple in fos­ter care have what they need to suc­ceed in school and beyond.”

What hap­pens next? The law requires the state to devel­op a plan to address issues for stu­dents in fos­ter care by June 30, 2019. Kent believes an even larg­er plan and more resources for schools are need­ed to ensure young peo­ple in fos­ter care grad­u­ate from high school and con­tin­ue on to col­lege and career train­ing programs.

Learn more about invest­ing in the poten­tial of youth tran­si­tion­ing from fos­ter care

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