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Improving Educational Outcomes for Children in Foster Care. Presentation to the State Board of Education January 24, 2005 Tracy L. Wareing Policy Advisor for Human Services Office of Governor Janet Napolitano Ruth Solomon Assistant Superintendent for Policy Arizona Department of Education.

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improving educational outcomes for children in foster care

Improving Educational Outcomesfor Children in Foster Care

Presentation to the State Board of Education

January 24, 2005

Tracy L. Wareing

Policy Advisor for Human Services

Office of Governor Janet Napolitano

Ruth Solomon

Assistant Superintendent for Policy

Arizona Department of Education

arizona children in foster care
Arizona Children in Foster Care
  • Arizona Department of Economic Security, Child Protective Services reports (as of Sept. 2004):
    • About 8900 kids in out of home care
    • 60% of those children are age 6 yrs and up
    • 1,377 children live in group homes
    • 574 children are currently living in a shelter
    • There are 2,671 licensed foster homes
    • Children move placements an average of over two and a half times while in out of home care
recent steps taken in arizona
Recent Steps Taken in Arizona
  • CPS Reform Efforts
    • 2003 Advisory Commission on CPS Reform
    • 7 Subcommittees: Reports, Records, Juvenile Justice, Health, Community, Structure, and EDUCATION
    • Governor’s Action Plan for CPS Reform
    • Special Session on CPS
    • 28 Action Teams Implementing Action Plan and HB2024
studies show education outcomes are often grim for foster youth
Studies Show Education Outcomes are Often Grim for Foster Youth
  • 83% of children in foster care are held back in school by 3rd grade, 46% do not complete high school and 75% are working below grade level1
  • Children in foster care are more likely to attend a low achieving school than other children (78% vs. 43%)2
  • 35% of foster youth have experienced four or more school changes and each school move results in a six month loss of educational progress3, 4
and the outcomes don t get better later in life
…And The Outcomes Don’t Get Better Later in Life
  • A Snapshot of Former Foster Youth
    • 1/3 are receiving public assistance within 2 years of leaving foster care5
    • 51% are unemployed at age 226
    • Without intervention, foster youth experience greater frequency of homelessness, addiction, early pregnancy, incarceration and future involvement with CPS than other youth
    • 3 in 10 of the nation’s adult homeless are former foster youth7
challenges faced by foster youth when changing schools
Challenges Faced by Foster Youth When Changing Schools

All youth face challenges in adjusting to different curricula, teachers, peers, and expectations, yet…

Foster Youth face additional challenges:

  • Missed school days due to enrollment delays because of lack of information/records (some students may initially be denied enrollment)
  • Missed school days due to appointments for social or medical services or even court
  • Lack of consistent advocacy for education needs, including special education
  • Simultaneously dealing with significant personal and familial issues
the voice of the youth
The Voice of the Youth

From focus group by Youth Law Center in California

  • “I was in 8th grade for two months, doing well, but then I was moved 11 times in nine months. It was almost impossible to go to school.”
  • “I needed more support in school. I was by myself. No one came and asked how I was. I went off into the cracks.”
slide8
Why?

“Perhaps the single most important thing that each of us can do to improve the educational outcomes for foster children is to ensure that their school placement remains stable. Historically, change of placement of the child has meant an almost automatic change of school. Yet for every school change, a child experiences serious loss and suffers academically.”8

critical issues
Critical Issues
  • Provide School Placement Stability
    • Allow youth placed in out of home care to attend their “home school” when it is safe to do so and in the student’s best interest
critical issues10
Critical Issues
  • Records and School Enrollment
    • Ensure youth in out of home care are not denied school enrollment because their records are not immediately available (inc. immunization records and birth certificates)
    • Ensure that records and information are promptly obtained/exchanged between CPS and the schools, whether case is still under investigation or child is already receiving CPS services
critical issues11
Critical Issues
  • Special Education for Foster Youth
    • Give clear direction (policy and practice) regarding the provision of educational services, including special ed, to students in out of home care
    • Consistent with federal law, clarify who is a parent for purposes of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act when a child is in CPS custody
working toward
Working Toward . . .

Uninterrupted Educational Access and Stability for Youth in Foster Care

where are we now
Where Are We Now?
  • Casey Family Programs Sponsored “A Road Map for Learning,” Education Summit, August 2004, Seattle, WA
    • Participants included 6 states and key national organizations
    • Arizona attendees: Casey Family Programs, Arizona Department of Education, DES (Child Protective Services), Attorney General’s Office, Governor’s Office
  • Work Product from Summit: Draft Advocacy Plan for Arizona
where are we now14
Where Are We Now?
  • Expansion of Core Action Team Members
    • DES/Child Protective Services
    • Casey Family Programs (inc. Education Specialist)
    • Arizona Department of Education
    • Governor’s Office
    • Attorney General’s Office
    • Children’s Action Alliance
    • School Psychologist
    • Representatives from Pima County Education/Foster Children Committee
where are we now15
Where Are We Now?
  • Casey Family Program Resources
    • A Road Map for Learning: Improving Educational Outcomes in Foster Care
    • Critical Questions and Strategies for Meeting the Education Needs of Children and Youth in Juvenile and Family Court (Judicial Checklist)
    • The Challenge of Educating the Non-Traditional Student, Teacher’s Edition
key partners for collaboration
Key Partners for Collaboration
  • School employees - teachers, principals, social workers, nurses, etc
  • CPS case workers
  • Foster parents
  • Relative caregivers
  • Attorneys, guardians ad litem, CASAs
  • Surrogate parents
  • Juvenile judges and court personnel
  • Post secondary educators and other administrators
taking action next steps
Taking Action: Next Steps
  • Presentations of this PowerPoint to Key Stakeholders – Raising Awareness
  • Dissemination of Core Team Resources: Teachers, Social Workers, Judges, Advocates
  • Finalize “Make a Difference in a Child’s Life: A Manual for Helping Children and Youth Get What they Need in School”
    • Plan for Distribution of Manual and Development of Corresponding Training Program
taking action next steps18
Taking Action: Next Steps
  • Partners Work Together to Clarify Policy and Practice on Critical Issues
  • Core Action Team to Evaluate San Diego Tutor Connection Program
  • Identification of Benchmarks of Success
  • Coordination with Other AZ Related Improvement Efforts
    • Post-secondary education needs for foster youth
    • Interagency Council on Homelessness, Youth Development
    • Juvenile Justice Efforts (prevention and treatment)
    • CPS Implementation of Family to Family program
resources
Resources

1Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles (a project of the LA Superior Court)

2Courtney, Mark. (2004). Educational Experiences of Children in Out of Home Care. Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago.

3Molly Herzog, Director of Project People, cited in The Connection: News and Information from the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association, Summer 2004, Vol. 20 No. 2

4Temple, J. A., & Reynolds, A. J. (1999). School mobility and achievement: Longitudinal results from an urban cohort.  Journal of School Psychology, 37(4), 355-377.

resources cont
Resources (cont.)

5Robert Goerge et al., (2002) Employment Outcomes for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care. Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago.

6Burley, M. & Halpern, M. (2001) Educational Attainment of Foster Youth. Washington State Institute for Public Policy (Document #01-11-3901)

7Molly Allen, Teens Aging Out of Foster Care in Oregon: The Importance of Transition Planning, Juvenile Rights Project, p. 8, June 2004

8Heybach & Winter (1999). Improving educational services for foster children: An advocate’s guide. Chicago: Law Project of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago