• June 2014
  • Vol. 15, No. 6

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Using CFSR Data to Inform Program Change

Children and youth in foster care often experience challenges that can lead to poor educational outcomes. An article in the Journal of Family Strengths suggests that States use data from the Child and Family Service Reviews (CFSRs) to measure policy effectiveness and consider program changes to improve the educational stability for this vulnerable population. 

The article defines the scope of the problem by presenting statistics on standardized test performance, particularly for English and math, grade retention, and graduation rates for children and youth in care—all of which were shown to be lower for youth in care compared to students not in foster care. The article notes that the Federal Government took strides to address the issue when it passed the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, which requires States to ensure the educational stability of children and youth in foster care. Louisiana was among the first States to enact legislation to help it comply with provisions set forth by the Fostering Connections Act, namely, laws about easing residency requirements for schools and mandating transportation to school. Because CFSRs track improvements in overall child welfare services, the author suggests the same data be used to help States comply with the Fostering Connections Act by identifying their challenges in ensuring educational stability for children in foster care, designing program improvements, and tracking performance after policy changes have been implemented.

The author notes that more research is needed to understand barriers to educational achievement faced by youth in care and that increased collaboration between the child welfare and education systems is necessary for improved student success.

"Using State Wide Child and Family Services Review Data to Analyze Policies to Improve Educational Outcomes for Children in Foster Care," by Corie Hebert, Journal of Family Strengths, 13(1), 2013, is available here:

http://digitalcommons.library.tmc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1213&context=jfs (PDF -122 KB)

Another journal recently published a special issue focused on performance measurement and included several articles centered on CFSR data. Articles focused on presenting a context of child welfare performance measurement, achieving permanency for youth in long-term foster care, timely adoption, and timely reunification. The Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work Special Issue: Performance Measurement in the Child Welfare System: Policy and Performance Pointers, 10(3), 2013, is available for purchase here:

http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/webs20/10/3#.U3Dwf3bQB2A

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