Yesterday’s national conversation about the education of children and youth in foster care engaged federal leaders and experts from research, practice, and lived experience, to discuss the challenges faced by kids in care and innovative approaches to improving their educational outcomes. The online event featured participants from Sacramento, California, to Washington, D.C.
Education is widely valued as an asset for future stability, but research reveals that children in care overwhelmingly lack educational credentials. Barriers highlighted at yesterday’s event included childhood trauma and placement instability. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) pointed out, “It’s not because they don’t want to work hard, it’s because if you had to move four times in elementary school and five times in high school you might fall behind as well. It’s emotionally very difficult.”
As Congress begins to take steps to reform federal education laws via a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the organizers sought to bring attention to education reforms that would level the playing field for kids in care. Innovative approaches offered span the federal, state, district, and classroom levels. These include improving the information-sharing between the education and child welfare systems, mentors, surrogate parents, and education advocates.
Event sponsors released an action guide to provide further detail on addressing this issue. The report includes a call to action for all stakeholders and concerned citizens, an overview of research findings from Chapin Hall at the University, a comprehensive federal policy history, and several examples of successful approaches. The report concludes with concrete action steps citizens, journalists, school staff, child welfare staff, researchers, economists, charitable foundations, advocates, court staff, and state and federal policy leaders can take to improve educational outcomes for kids in care.