Helping Children and Youth in Foster Care Succeed in School

Though there are stellar students among them, on the whole children and youth in foster care struggle in school more than their peers. They experience higher rates of placement in special education, more absences, more suspensions and expulsions, and lower achievement.

They also experience more school instability, which can hurt academic progress. One study found 75% of students in foster care made an unscheduled school change in one school year, compared to less than 40% of students not in foster care (Frerer, et al., 2013).

Students in foster care are also less likely than their peers to graduate high school. While the average dropout rate in the U.S. in 2014 was 6.5%, a study of youth in foster care in the Midwest found 45% had not earned a high school diploma or GED by age 19 (NYTD, 2014). Another study found only 8% of youth who aged out of care graduated from college by age 26, compared with 46% of a nationally representative sample of 26-year-olds (Courtney, et al., 2011).

In North Carolina, we’re trying to change this story by helping students in foster care succeed in school. Resource parents have a key role to play in this urgent, life-changing effort. That’s what this issue is all about.