Educational Stability for Kids in Foster Care

RESEARCH SUPPORTS school stability:

  • Research shows that children who change schools frequently:
    • Make less academic progress than their peers, losing about 4 - 6 months of educational progress every time they change schools
    • Fall farther behind with each school change, leading to low test scores, negative academic outcomes, and high drop-out rates
    • May have a tougher time developing supportive relationships with teachers and peers
  • Children in foster care may change schools frequently — when they first enter foster care , when they move from one foster care living arrangement to another, or when they return home. 
  • The educational outcomes of foster youth trail behind national averages in standardized test scores, a disparity researchers attribute to frequent school changes.

PROMISING NEWS to encourage stability efforts:

  • When youth in foster care stay in the same middle and high school setting, their likelihood of graduating high school doubles when compared to youth whose educational placements change.
  • On December 10, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  The law is effective on December 10, 2016.
  • ESSA is the first major overhaul of federal education law in over a decade.
  • It contains (for the first time) key protections for students in foster care to promote school stability and success and required collaboration with child welfare partners.

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