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May 2011Vol. 12, No. 4Extracurricular Activities Benefit Foster Youth

A recent article in Youth Law News makes a strong case for the importance of extracurricular activities in the lives of youth in foster care. "Beyond the Basics: How Extracurricular Activities Can Benefit Foster Youth" highlights examples of how structured, voluntary afterschool activities can help youth in foster care improve in the areas of academic achievement, behavior, and identity development. Some of the cited benefits include:

  • Formation of strong bonds with teachers, staff, and peers
  • Motivation to do well in school when minimum grade point average is required
  • Increased likelihood of college enrollment
  • Reduced rates in number of dropouts and delinquent behavior
  • Building of interpersonal and leadership skills

Author Stephanie Klitsch notes that only a few States have laws supporting these kinds of activities for youth in foster care. California is presented as an example of a State that passed legislation to remove barriers to extracurricular activities and now offers expanded opportunities for youth. Foster youth also need practical and emotional support from foster parents, caseworkers, and school officials in order to participate in afterschool activities. Some recommendations for increasing that kind of support are offered.

Read the full article in the October-December 2010 issue of Youth Law News and learn how jurisdictions and individuals can get involved to increase youth participation in extracurricular activities: