September/October 2015Vol. 16, No. 7Toward Educational Stability for Youth in Care
A September 2014 report discusses the Annie E. Casey Foundation's efforts to improve educational stability and outcomes for youth in foster care between 2008 (when the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act was enacted) and 2013 (when the Federal Uninterrupted Scholars Act was signed, which made it easier for child welfare caseworkers to obtain the educational records for the youth with whom they work). For youth in foster care already experiencing family trauma, separation, and instability, school interruptions can have added adverse consequences on their educational achievement and long-term success into adulthood. Some issues include delays in school enrollment, omissions and errors in transferring records from one school to another, and difficulties accessing or continuing to receive special education and other needed services from one school to the next.
Compared to children not in foster care, youth in foster care consistently experience lower academic achievement; lower standardized test scores; higher rates of absenteeism, dropping out, and grade retention; and more behavioral issues. Fostering Connections brought attention to the educational struggles of children and youth in care. To help guide and support States in implementing Fostering Connections and fill the gaps legislation did not address—specifically how to collaborate effectively across the child welfare and education systems—Annie E. Casey focused on four key areas of strategic investment:
- Funding data collection and research to fill gaps in information about school stability, educational performance, and permanency outcomes for students in foster care
- Building and strengthening State networks of policy advocates
- Providing intensive technical assistance to selected States
- Convening stakeholders, disseminating resources, and promoting the exchange of information about best practices
The report highlights some of the successes and milestones achieved by Annie E. Casey and its partners in their work to provide youth with a stable and positive school experience. Snapshots of progress are presented, and the report also addresses lessons learned; recognizes continuing challenges; and lists specific recommendations and next steps for leaders, advocates, and funders to keep the Foundation's work, momentum, and progress in this area moving forward.
To read Sustaining Momentum: Improving Educational Stability for Young People in Foster Care, visit the Annie E. Casey Foundation website at http://www.aecf.org/resources/sustaining-momentum/.