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  • September 2017
  • Vol. 18, No. 6

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Study Examines Educational Outcomes of Youth in Kinship and Foster Care

Children in kinship and foster care have historically lagged behind their peers in educational outcomes. A recent literature review explores the educational risk and protective factors associated with children in out-of-home care with regard to educational outcomes such as grades, test scores, attendance, expulsions, and grade retention.

The literature search probes 39 studies from eight major databases between 1990 and 2016 in order to determine if there is a correlation between kinship and foster care with educational outcomes in school-age children in first-world countries. The studies included in the review examine educational outcomes for children in care based on child-level factors such as age, gender, and mental and physical health; factors pertaining to birth families, such as early childhood disadvantages, poverty, and exposure to substance use; factors pertaining to care history, such as reason for entry into care, age at entry, length of time in care, and placement type; and the school experience of children in care, such as the prevalence of school transfers and children's educational aspirations and feelings about school.

The findings of this review demonstrate that certain factors are consistent predictors of lower educational outcomes. These factors include male gender, ethnic minority status (with certain exceptions, such as being Chinese), special education needs, behavioral problems, and longer time spent in care. Placement instability, however, is not consistently associated with worse outcomes. In addition, the review concludes that almost all studies show no difference in outcomes between kinship and foster placements. Caregiver involvement in schooling and supportive adult relationships are associated with higher educational attainment.

"What Are the Factors Associated With Educational Achievement for Children in Kinship or Foster Care: A Systematic Review," by Aoife O'Higgins, Judy Sebba, and Frances Gardner (Children and Youth Services Review, 79) is available at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190740916305163.

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