Ready to Succeed: Changing Systems to Give California’s Foster Children the Opportunities They Deserve to be Ready for and Succeed in School
Press Release FROM The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning
Mon, 19 May 2008 15:08:17 GMT - SANTA CRUZ - (Business Wire) The California Education Collaborative for Children in Foster Care today released a new report calling for a sharper focus on educational outcomes for children in foster care and offering recommendations for strengthening the policies and systems that support them.
“Right from the start, children in the foster care system begin school behind their peers and face systemic and structural barriers that hamper future success,” said Diane Siri, the director of the project. “The sad result is that nearly one-half (46%) of these children will drop out before they finish high school. We hope that this report and its recommendations will focus attention on the educational needs of foster children. By improving their educational outcomes we can help the more than 74,000 youth in California’s foster care system to make the transition to successful adulthood.”
In focusing on the connections between foster care, social service and the education system, the report details what the Collaborative has identified as the most significant barriers to educational success:
- Children entering foster care have often already experienced significant emotional or physical trauma or maltreatment that harms their ability to function in a classroom setting and interferes with their ability to learn. Most children entering the foster care system are already a year behind their peers in school.
- Frequent changes in foster care placements often mean transferring to a new school, leading to a bewildering array of teachers, administrators, classmates and routines. Typically, school records do not follow students in a timely manner, magnifying the problems, and when records do arrive they are often incomplete.
- Too often, there is no single person with an interest in a foster child’s educational outcomes, nor the authority and accountability to provide guidance when necessary.
- Child welfare advocates, educators and other service providers do not and sometimes cannot share information about foster children for whom they are responsible, making it more difficult to coordinate a child’s education and education-related interventions.
To address these and other issues, the new report identifies three key policy areas -- School Readiness, School Success and Data Sharing -- to focus improvements that lead to improved educational outcomes for foster children. Recommendations within each area include measures to strengthen and increase access to high quality pre-school; ensure school stability and increase training, support and incentives for educators; and improve the collection and sharing of data related to the educational progress of foster care youth. (A complete listing of the policy areas and recommendations is included in the report summary and is available online at www.cftl.org/fostercare.)
“Many of these recommendations may seem familiar to those engaged in efforts to improve foster care,” said Siri. “But what is new is their focus on the critical role the schools can play in improving the educational outcomes of youth in foster care. Working together, education, foster care and social service systems can effect meaningful changes at the state and county levels.”
The new report, Ready to Succeed: Changing Systems to Give California’s Foster Children the Opportunities They Deserve to be Ready for and Succeed in School, was developed by The California Education Collaborative for Children in Foster Care. Lead partners in the Collaborative included The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning and Mental Health Advocacy Services, Inc. The Stuart Foundation provided funding for the effort. A summary of the report and recommendations, as well as a full version of the report, are available online at www.cftl.org/fostercare.