Foster Care & Education
Texas children and youth in foster care comprise a small percentage of the total student population, but their difficulties are great. Often, before entering foster care, their lives have been chaotic and sometimes filled with danger or extreme neglect. Foster care, although intended to be a safe haven for children and youth who are victims of abuse and neglect, often causes additional challenges and instability. Youth formerly in foster care often note it was school that provided the only consistency in their lives. Many remember a caring teacher who truly made a difference.
According to national studies, youth in foster care often have poor educational outcomes, in comparison with the general child population. The National Working Group on Foster Care and Education reviewed studies from around the country on children and youth currently and formerly in foster care. According to these studies, when compared to the general student population, foster youth were more likely to be suspended or expelled, scored lower on statewide standardized tests, were more likely to repeat a grade, were less likely to graduate and were more likely to drop out.
Although educational challenges are not unique to children and youth in foster care, this vulnerable population faces additional hurdles, including multiple residential and school changes, court appearances or therapeutic or other case-related appointments that must be attended during school hours, missed school days to visit with parents and siblings, as well as a typically chaotic educational history prior to entering foster care in the first place.
Children and youth who are of school-age and in foster care may also find themselves lost in-between child welfare and education – two systems with overlap, but inadequate ongoing and effective communication. Texas judicial, child welfare and education stakeholders informally report that school changes result in a damaging loss of records, credits,services, and support systems, which can hinder the academic success of school-age foster children and youth.