New Report Documents Educational Stability Movement for Foster Youth

Posted September 26, 2014
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Ed Stability

Young peo­ple who enter fos­ter care often expe­ri­ence a series of dis­rup­tions. In addi­tion to leav­ing home, they often must change schools — a pat­tern that leaves them at risk of sev­er­ing impor­tant rela­tion­ships and falling behind in their education.

Rec­og­niz­ing that edu­ca­tion­al suc­cess plays a key role in a child’s prospects for per­ma­nen­cy and even­tu­al suc­cess, the Foun­da­tion has been work­ing with grantees and part­ners for years to pro­mote improve­ments in school sta­bil­i­ty for youth in fos­ter care. A new report, Sus­tain­ing Momen­tum: Improv­ing Edu­ca­tion­al Sta­bil­i­ty for Youth in Fos­ter Care,” describes the pol­i­cy wins achieved by this effort to help states imple­ment the Fos­ter­ing Con­nec­tions to Suc­cess and Increas­ing Adop­tions Act of 2008.

The law marked a major break­through in rec­og­niz­ing the impact of edu­ca­tion­al insta­bil­i­ty on young peo­ple in fos­ter care. But it left many ques­tions unan­swered and some impor­tant gaps to be filled. The report exam­ines exam­ples of col­lab­o­ra­tion among edu­ca­tion and child wel­fare agency lead­ers, judges and state and local offi­cials to use the law to pro­vide a more sta­ble and suc­cess­ful school expe­ri­ence. Many of the pol­i­cy wins described came about when agen­cies for­mal­ized ways to share infor­ma­tion about stu­dents in fos­ter care to pro­vide greater con­ti­nu­ity and sta­bil­i­ty, improve deci­sion mak­ing and iden­ti­fy unnec­es­sary obstacles.

While many states have made progress in imple­ment­ing Fos­ter­ing Con­nec­tions, the report iden­ti­fies six areas of work ahead, includ­ing a need for edu­ca­tion and child wel­fare sys­tems to work toward a broad­er agen­da for pro­vid­ing data on and meet­ing the edu­ca­tion­al needs of chil­dren and youth in fos­ter care.

Young peo­ple in fos­ter care shouldn’t need to be lucky to suc­ceed in school,” says Kari­na Jiménez Lewis, a senior pol­i­cy asso­ciate with the Foun­da­tion who worked on the edu­ca­tion­al sta­bil­i­ty portfolio.

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