Martin Goyette, Alexandre Blanchet
Canada – Quebec
This article reports results from the first longitudinal and representative study of a cohort of youth leaving care in Quebec (EDJeP study). Focusing on education and residential stability, we show that youths from youth protection services accumulate important vulnerabilities that make their transition out of youth protection services very challenging. In particular, compared to their peers in the general population, youth leaving care have significant educational delays that complicate their integration into the labor market. Our data suggest that a system that better encourages school perseverance and success would limit these academic delays and promote graduation. We also find that nearly half of the youths from the protection system experienced residential instability in the months following their release from placement and that 20% of them experienced at least one episode of homelessness. These last elements clearly show the extent of the vulnerability of youth leaving the protection system. We suggest some areas of reflection to improve this situation.
CHAMPS Children Need Amazing Parents
See this data-rich publication, compiled by the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education (a project of the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law) in partnership with the Education Law Center and Juvenile Law Center for up-to-date statistics and a review of policy, practice, laws and promising programs impacting the success of children in foster care. This publication consists of four sections that can individually or collectively inform advocates, policymakers, agency leaders, and other key stakeholders. These four sections are: A brief data at a glance summary about the educational outcomes of students in foster care; A summary of select federal policies that support educational stability and success and increased data collection and reporting; A comprehensive review of the studies and research related to the education of students in foster care, with accompanying citations; and An overview of some promising data-supported programs or interventions around the country designed to benefit students in foster care.
What is the Relationship Between Being in Care and the Educational Outcomes of Children? An International Systematic Review
Aoife O’Higgins, Judy Sebba, Nikki Luke
United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia
Electronic databases and websites were used to identify 28 studies including two reviews/meta-analyses from the UK, US, Canada and Australia. Comparisons across countries are subject to limitations of different cultures and services. Studies identified for the review were published after 1990 and were all in English. All but two studies (Barber & Delfabbro, 2005; Conger & Rebeck, 2001) employed comparison groups or compared children in care to the general population. Study samples ranged from 107 to over 222,000 young people.
Connected after care: Characteristics, Policy, and Programs Associated with Postsecondary Education and Employment for Youth with Foster Care Histories
Jennifer M. Geiger, & Nathanael J. Okpych
Recent federal laws and state policies reflect the government’s investment in improving education and employment outcomes for youth with foster care histories. However, little research has assessed the roles of these programs using national data. Drawing on data from the National Youth in Transitions Database (NYTD) (n = 7797), this study examines the roles that state-level policies and programs, youth-level participation in programs and services, and youth characteristics play in youths’ connection to employment and education (“connectedness”) at age 21. Results from multilevel regression analyses find that foster youth in states with widely available tuition waiver programs increases the odds of connectedness to school. The amount of time youth spend in extended foster care, as well as receipt of postsecondary education aid and services, also increases connectedness. Study findings underscore the importance of material and relational supports in supporting foster youths’ connection to employment and education in early adulthood.
Chun Liu, Christian Vasquez, Kristian Jones, Rowena Fong
Independent living programs (ILP) are designed to increase positive outcomes for foster youth aging out of care in the various aspects of life such as education, employment, and housing. The purpose of this scoping review is to assess the effectiveness of independent living programs on educational outcomes among youths aging out of the foster care system in United States. A literature search was conducted among databases and dissertation abstracts. Publication dates of studies were restricted to 2005 to 2018. Language was restricted to English. Eleven articles were included in this review. Thematic findings included constant placement changes impacted educational outcomes, housing considerations should be paired with education, acknowledging individual youth characteristics is important as well as encouraging youth to participate as early as possible. The implications for agency practices and policies are also discussed in the study.
A Descriptive Analysis of Programs Serving Foster Care Alumni in Higher Education: Challenges and Opportunities
Jennifer M. Geiger, Megan Hayes Piel, Angelique Day, Lisa Schelbe
Foster care alumni experience a number of challenges related to accessing and completing postsecondary education, however little is known about the programs that currently exist in the United States that support this group of students in college. This study sought to build on previous work that calls for the need to develop programs to support foster care alumni in higher education and to obtain a better understanding of the characteristics of existing programs and the perceived programmatic and student challenges as reported by program directors and staff, faculty, and researchers. Eight-one program directors, staff, and researchers in 22 states participated in an online survey about their perceptions of challenges related to programs supporting foster care alumni in college and challenges students experienced. The survey also elicited information about program and student characteristics. Results indicate several challenges related to financial support, student engagement, student housing, and helping students manage family and personal issues. This information created the foundation for a discussion about implications for future research, programs, practice, and policy related to foster care alumni in higher education.
Brenda M. Morton
The academic challenges foster youth encounter during their P-12 education have been widely reported. Yet, despite these challenges, the majority of foster youth desire postsecondary education. What is less known is the reason why so few foster youth alumni who desire a four-year college degree, achieve this goal. For the participants in this four-year longitudinal study, maltreatment, resulting in foster care placement, and the ensuing exposure to the foster care system, resulted in trauma histories and mental health diagnoses. Anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), were the most common diagnosis. The participants shared the ways in which these mental health challenges manifested throughout their college education. Of those in the study, almost half successfully graduated from college, a third dropped out, and only two remain enrolled. This study provides a unique and critical insight into the experiences of foster youth, enrolled in a four-year university, by sharing their stories
The Potential Educational Benefits of Extending Foster Care to Young Adults: Findings from a Natural Experiment
Mark E. Courtney, Jennifer L. Hook
Research has demonstrated the employment and earnings benefits accompanying educational attainment, and the relatively poor educational attainment and economic well-being of young people who transition to adulthood from foster care. Policymakers’ concern over these poor outcomes has long been reflected in U.S. child welfare policy, most recently in the provisions of the 2008 Fostering Connections to Success Act allowing states to claim federal reimbursement for extending foster care from age 18 to age 21. While the policy of allowing youth to remain in foster care past age 18 has promise as a strategy for helping them continue their education, empirical evidence of its impact is lacking. Using data from a longitudinal study of youth (n = 732) who transitioned to adulthood from foster care, this study takes advantage of between-state policy variation in the age at which youth are required to leave care to assess the relationship between extended foster care and educational attainment at age 26. Distinguishing between not having obtained a high school diploma or GED, having only a high school diploma or GED, and having obtained at least one year of college, each additional year in care is associated with a 46% increase in the estimated odds that former foster youth will progress to the next level of educational attainment, controlling for a range of youth characteristics measured at ages 17–18. Background characteristics including youth’s gender, race, employment, parenting, educational performance and aspirations, and indicators of behavioral health problems are also associated with educational attainment in early adulthood.
Brenda M. Morton
The purpose of this qualitative research study was to explore the perceptions of former and current foster youth about the barriers they encountered during their K-12 education, and to learn how they overcame these obstacles and achieved academic success. The study included in-depth interviews of 11 participants, all of whom were current or former foster youth who were enrolled or had plans to enroll in a community college or 4-year university. The results of this study indicated that previously identified barriers to academic achievement were true for this group of participants, but that these topics or themes represented the effects of the deeper issues of anger, abuse, and disempowerment. This anger, abuse, and disempowerment touched every aspect of their lives, resulting in high mobility, Individualized Education Plans for emotional/behavioral issues, and difficulty transitioning from care to independence.
The Impact of Placing Adolescent Males in Foster Care on Education, Income Assistance, and Convictions
William P. Warburton, Rebecca N. Warburton, Arthur Sweetman, Clyde Hertzman
Understanding the causal impacts of taking at-risk youth into government care is part of the evidence base for policy. Two sources of exogenous variation affecting alternative subsets of the at-risk population provide causal impacts interpreted as local average treatment effects. Placing 16- to 18-year-old males into care decreases or delays high school graduation, increases income assistance receipt, and has alternative effects on criminal convictions depending upon the instrument employed. This suggests that asking whether more or fewer children should be taken into care is insufficient; it also matters which, and how, children are taken into care.
The Voyager Project is a social innovation strategy that unfolded over a five-year period to redress educational disruption and disadvantage faced by children in State care. This article describes a demonstration project aimed at identifying and attempting to alleviate obstacles faced by Toronto care leavers. The need for educational intervention on behalf of this population is explained and the lessons learned from such an undertaking are described. A refocusing of practice efforts to support interconnectedness and interdependence is indicated. Investment in supporting youth in care having opportunities for network bridging is a promising approach to improve outcomes.
The Case for Enhanced Educational Supports for Children in Public Care: An Integrative Literature Review of the Educational Pathway of Children in Care
For many years, the adult outcomes of young people who have grown up in foster care have been an object of broad concern. Numerous studies show that young adults who were former foster children lagged behind their community peers on a number of socioeconomic indicators. Educational attainment is seen as a key developmental outcome and one that is highly associated with positive adult adjustment. Most young people today undertake a gradual process of becoming independent, but this emancipation process is very different and often traumatic for young people who age out of child protection care. This review considers the published literature that explores the educational and associated outcomes of children who leave the care of child protective services.
Youth Who Grew Up in Care Have the Right to Post-Secondary Education – and Tuition Waivers Opens Doors
Jacqueline (Jacquie) Gahagan