Linking education to permanency outcomes
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Linking Education to Permanency Outcomes:. How and Why Improving Educational Outcomes Promotes Permanency. Permanency Defined.

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Linking education to permanency outcomes

Linking Education to Permanency Outcomes:

How and Why Improving Educational Outcomes Promotes Permanency

Permanency defined

Permanency Defined

  • Adoption & Safe Families Act: “Permanency” means “achieving one the permanency planning goals” approved in ASFA such as reunification, adoption, permanent legal custodianship or other planned placement intended to be permanent.  

  • Best practices definition: Some organizations define “permanency” more broadly to mean “providing a lifetime commitment to a child in a setting where he or she is safe, can have a sense of belonging and well being and can live to adulthood.”

Indicators of permanency

Indicators of Permanency

  • Increase in adoptions, reunifications and planned permanent placements

  • Decrease in length of time a child is in child welfare system

  • Decrease in number of living placements

  • Decrease in referrals to JJ placements

  • Lifetime stability

Educational success

Educational Success

  • Children receive the education they need to make progress

  • Hallmarks of progress/success

    • Graduation from HS

    • Standardized tests/performance at/above grade level

    • Attend school regularly

    • Fewer school changes

    • Fewer discipline problems

    • Receive special ed services they need

    • Higher education attainable

Educational success well being

Educational Success = Well Being

  • Improves Current Well Being

    • Placement stability

    • Social/emotional stability

    • Increases access to services

  • Expands Future Well Being

    • Less likely to be incarcerated, unemployed, abuse drugs etc.

    • Increased income potential

    • Increased stability later in life

Education related factors that impact permanency

Education-Related Factors That Impact Permanency

  • School Suspensions/Expulsions

  • Need for Intensive School Support

  • Special Education Needs

  • Truancy Issues

  • Increase in Risky Behaviors

  • Unmet behavioral health needs

  • Need for Advocacy in School

  • Lack of training/knowledge of foster parents and providers to meet the educational needs of children in care

Data the missing link

Data: The Missing Link

  • Education: Maintains extensive data (educational progress, NCLB, special education, discipline)

  • Child Welfare: Data re permanency, well being but very limited education data

  • Courts: Possible resource

  • Collaborative Projects: e.g., Education Coordinating Council, Los Angeles CA

  • Independent Research: Growing

Link to permanency examples

Link to Permanency: Examples

  • Minnesota Permanency Demonstration Project:Five-year study surveying 111 caregivers; Compares experiences of children who achieved permanency with those who remained in foster care.

  • Children who moved to permanency were:

    • Less likely to miss or skip school or to have been suspended from school.

    • More likely to attend school

    • More likely to talk to caregivers about his or her grades or school work and school-related activities.

    • Less likely to have changed schools during prior 2 years

  • Preliminary data, July 2009 available at

Links to permanency court based findings

Links to Permanency: Court-based Findings

  • In 2006 when New York mandated that judges ask questions relating to education and health the state experienced a profound increase in permanency rates including:

    • Rates of adoption doubled from 2003

    • 80% of children who had been victims of abuse and neglect cases achieved permanency – a rate far in excess of national and state standards

  • Pima County, AZ:Education Checklist

Links to permanency impact of suspensions exclusions

Links to Permanency :Impact of Suspensions/Exclusions

The Midwest study by Chapin Hall found that two-thirds (67%) of youth in out-of-home care had been suspended from school at least once compared to 28% in a national sample of general population youth.

  • School discipline problems were found to lead to longer lengths of stay in foster care, more disruptions in placements and more involvement with the judicial system.

    C. Smithgall, et al.Educational Experiences of Children in Out-of-Home Care, University of Chicago, Chapin Hall Center for Children, Chicago, IL (2004), available at

Impact of suspensions exclusions

Impact of Suspensions/Exclusions

  • Frequently-moved children were more likely to have their current placement disrupt and less likely to be adopted or taken into private guardianship. With each move, the odds of finding permanence declines by 25 percent.

    Children and Family Research Center, Instability in Foster Care

Links to permanency qualitative findings

Links to Permanency: Qualitative Findings

  • “When a child has special needs in school and those needs are ignored, the child exhibits more disruptive behavior both at home and in school. Sometimes it’s too much and families give up. It’s heartbreaking.”

  • “When my foster child was expelled from school for over a year, I had no choice but to return him to the foster care system. I couldn’t stay home with him and he couldn’t be left alone every day. When schools fail a child in care, that decision undermines the child’s entire future. Schools don’t seem to understand the devastation.”

Ongoing research

Ongoing Research

  • Advocates for Children, New York Five-year project working with two foster care agencies in New York City.

  • Fresno County's Department of Children and Family Services Collaborative inter-agency committee formed four years ago to improve educational outcomes for Fresno County's foster youth. Reports: “we have seen first hand the overall correlation between permanency and education.”

Ongoing research1

Ongoing Research

  • Lucas County Children Services, Ohio State University - Diana Theiss, Analyzing data re educational support, educational performance, suspensions/expulsions, and school attendance & comparing it to data re. permanency outcomes.

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