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Children in Foster Care and their Families

In Focus: Children in Foster Care

  • Approximately 415,000 youth were in foster care on September 30, 2014, and more than 250,000 of them were school-age.[1]

  • More than half of students who enter the foster care system must change schools when they enter care, and more than one-third of 17–18 year olds in foster care have changed schools five or more times.[2]

  • Only one-half of students in foster care complete high school by age 18.[3]

  • Children in foster care are diagnosed with PTSD at approximately twice the rate of U.S. war veterans.[4]

Key Strategies for Inclusion

  • Make families feel welcome. Include foster parents as equal partners in the educational journey of the children in their care. Make sure they feel invited and included in PTA events and committees.

  • Provide information. Assist parents in accessing information about their children’s school progress, needed supplies and teacher expectations. Provide information about the school’s requirements and practices for student conduct and educational success, as well as their student’s rights and responsibilities.

  • Connect parents to local resources. Create events and maintain local networks that give parents of foster children opportunities to talk with other parents, school staff, local agencies and community resources.

PTA Resources

  • Foster Care Video Series: Includes brief videos on topics such as:
    • What is foster care?
    • Misconceptions about children in foster care
    • How children in foster care are vulnerable to identity theft
    • Celebrating success for children in foster care

  • Parents’ Guides to Student Success: Information and activities to help foster parents understand the expectations for children in their care at each grade level

Other Resources

Children’s Defense Fund focuses on legal and political advocacy for all children, especially poor children, children of color and those with disabilities.

[1] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau. (2015). The AFCARS report. Retrieved from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/afcarsreport22.pdf.  

[2] National Working Group on Foster Care and Education. (2014). Fostering success in education: National factsheet on the educational outcomes of children in foster care. Retrieved from http://www.bettercarenetwork.org/library/the-continuum-of-care/foster-care/fostering-success-in-education-national-factsheet-on-the-educational-outcomes-of-children-in-foster

[3] Ibid.

[4] Pecora, P. J., et al. (2005). Improving family foster care: Findings from the Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study. Retrieved from http://www.casey.org/northwest-alumni-study/