A non-profit is working with schools, juvenile courts and welfare agencies to improve the education of foster children, who tend to fall between gaps, frequently changing schools, dropping out and being much less likely to achieve proficiency in maths and English. The collaboration means social workers, for example, will identify children who need educational help. In Indiana, where it began, the project has been incorporated into the state government.
Results & Impact
By the end of 2012, FosterEd Indiana’s 17 Education Liaisons had worked directly with 748 foster children. Only 29 percent of foster children are proficient for their grade level in English language and 37 percent in math
Indiana Department of Child Services, Indiana Department of Education, Indiana Supreme Court, Regional Department of Child Services office, Beasley Yoder Consulting, Sundaram LLC, the National Centre for Youth Law, The Mind Trust, Child Advocates, WestEd, Goalbook
The non-profit Foster-Ed brings together representatives from the education, juvenile justice and welfare agencies to stop foster children falling through the gaps. It means, for example, that social workers identify children who need extra educational help. This is particularly important as a third of foster children change school in a given year. The partners choose a "champion" for each child, preferably their carer or a teacher, to ensure that child gets access to all the help it is entitled to. Moreover, the partners collaborate on solutions to problems like violent or disruptive behaviour, allocating counselling or extra classes
Indiana, California, Arizona and New Mexico
Cost & Value
Running since 2010
At the pilot stage, one of the most common problems was still communication between public schools and child welfare agencies. This was resolved at the post pilot stage when FosterEd staff became employees of the Department of Child Services
FosterEd began as a pilot program in Marion County, Indiana in 2010. In 2012, the pilot was expanded when Indiana created a publicly-funded, statewide FosterEd program and its staff became employees of the Department of Child Services. FosterEd has spread to other states, and is operating in California, Arizona, and New Mexico
A local program in Marion County, Indiana, aimed at improving the education of foster children helped thousands and been replicated in three other states.
Children in foster care can often face a unique set of educational challenges due to changes in schooling, little communication between schools and welfare agencies, and a lack of stability. Many children also suffer anxiety issues or other behavioural problems from the trauma of abandonment or abuse.
The non-profit Foster-Ed brings together representatives from the education, juvenile justice and welfare agencies to stop foster children falling through the gaps. It means, for example, that social workers identify children who need extra educational help. This is particularly important as a third of foster children change school in a given year. The partners choose a “champion” for each child, preferably their carer or a teacher, to ensure that child gets access to all the help it is entitled to.
FosterEd initially spends up to six months meeting with all the local government agencies who work with foster children. After gathering data on all the agencies and children involved, FosterEd then recommends what could be done to accelerate everyone’s efforts – for example, by offering counselling or extra lessons. FosterEd also acts as the main liaison between the children, their foster parents and juvenile courts in cases where violence or relocation is an issue.
FosterEd began as a pilot program in Marion County, Indiana in 2010 from the National Centre for Youth Law, a non-profit which aims to help foster children. In 2012, the pilot was expanded when Indiana created a publicly-funded, statewide FosterEd program and its staff became employees of the Department of Child Services. By the end of the year, the team had worked directly with 748 foster children, and resolved 89% of 1,536 educational needs.
“What we’re seeking to do is ensure the children get the the education they deserve,” said Michelle Francois Traiman, FosterEd’s Director. “And, after they leave their engagement with us, we want them to be champions who can fight for their futures and their dreams. Typically, this is achieved by 5-10 year partnerships with states. juvenile justice agencies, child welfare agencies, schools and the behavioural health and advocacy community,”
FosterEd usually commits to working with a state for three to five years and the leadership team is comprised members of education departments, welfare agencies and the courts.
FosterEd has spread to California, Arizona, and New Mexico. FosterEd launched a pilot in Santa Cruz County, California, in February of 2013, and the Educational Liaisons have supported over 200 foster children in the area. In California, FosterEd has partnered with Goalbook, a private company to develop new, secure, on-line case management system which gathers all the relevant information about the foster children they are working with.
It is also working with WestEd, an education research firm, to produce policy recommendations documenting the educational performance of students in foster care.
(Picture: Flickr/Indiana Public Media)