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Foster care children most vulnerable to school failure, drop out

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on Sun, 05/19/2013 - 13:40
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Foster care children most vulnerable to school failure, drop out

Foster care kids struggle with academic success in comparison to peers with similar disadvantage.

A new study reveals that children in the foster care system struggle academically. Specifically, foster care children are the most vulnerable for high rates of school failure and drop outs, as well as low enrollment in college.

These are the startling findings from a newly released study from the Institute for Evidence-Based Change (IEBC), in partnership with the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Social Services Research (CSSR).

Even more alarming is the fact foster care kids struggle with academic success in comparison to peers with similar disadvantages. The new study is the first time longitudinal data on foster care youth education outcomes have been compared to other at-risk student populations tracking more than 11,000 Californian high school students over five school years.

IEBC President and Chief Executive Officer Brad Phillips said, “Foster youth are less likely to complete high school, enroll in community college or remain in community college for a second year.”

The report, which combined data from Foster Youth Transitions (a study of California foster youth high school and college educational outcomes) and the Stuart Foundation report on it (At Greater Risk, California Foster Youth and the Path from High School to College), showed:

  • 45 percent of foster care youth completed high school compared with 53 percent of similarly disadvantaged youth not in foster care and 79 percent of the general student population;
  • 43 percent of foster care youth enrolled in community college compared with 46 percent of similarly disadvantaged youth not in foster care and 59 percent of the general student population;
  • 41 percent of the foster care youth who enrolled in college remained enrolled in community college for a second year compared with 48 percent of similarly disadvantaged youth not in foster care and 62 percent of the general student population.

Conversely, the study demonstrates the hurdles that were overcome when former foster care youth succeed in school and life.

“The Foster Youth Transitions study is an important step in furthering knowledge about foster youth, high school and college outcomes, and highlights important characteristics that shape foster youth education performance,” Phillips said. “Being able to combine historically separate databases was instrumental in the success of this study.”

IEBC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving academic success for all students, is nationally recognized for its leadership and innovative approaches in working with educators and education stakeholders to access, organize and use the data already at their disposal.

Added Phillips, “Other states would do well to use this model to explore the same combination of social services and education data to improve the knowledge base concerning foster youth, the challenges facing them and the opportunities to address them.”