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May 2022Vol. 23, No. 4Best Practices Guide for Improving Education Outcomes for Youth in Foster Care

Youth in foster care continue to have poorer education outcomes compared with their peers. For example, the high school graduation rate in California for youth in foster care is 58 percent while the general population graduation rate is 84 percent. Best Practices Guide for Developing a District System to Improve Education Outcomes for Youth in Foster Care from the Alliance for Children's Rights seeks to build on its Foster Youth Education Toolkit and help school districts create a system that implements an education that fully supports youth in foster care.

This data-driven guide is the result of a 4-year partnership built between a network of school districts and Alliance for Children's Rights staff working with youth in foster care in Los Angeles County and on systems change issues across the state. It covers the following topics:

  • Identifying and designating youth in foster care in local student information systems
  • Collecting and analyzing local data for continuous improvement
  • Improving school stability
  • Implementing immediate enrollment of youth in the least restrictive environment
  • Issuing partial credits to youth in foster care
Each chapter provides an overview of relevant laws; provides discussion questions; includes a step-by-step guide; and presents other considerations, issues, and recommendations. The guide includes tools and practice tips to help districts implement the recommended best practices, equity issues for districts to consider, and trauma concerns. It also highlights participating districts that demonstrate the gains that had been made by following the recommendations in this guide.

Program directors, education professionals who work with youth in foster care, and other stakeholders can access the guide and use the recommendations to further their work in improving educational outcomes for youth in foster care.