Official Title: The Children's Stability & Well-Being Study: Qualitative Analysis of the Educational Stability of Children in Foster Care
Research Leads: David M. Rubin, M.D., M.S.C.E., Cynthia Mollen, M.D., M.S.C.E., and Kathleen Noonan, J.D.
Study Team: Meredith Matone, M.H.S., Sarah Zlotnik, M.S.W., M.S.P.H., Robin Mekonnen, M.S.W., Ph.D., Amanda O’Reilly, M.P.H.
Supported By: William Penn Foundation
Dates: August 2009-December 2010
Children in out-of-home placements are at increased risk for behavioral problems and educational instability, which includes late entry into school, lack of support for educational success, lower standardized test scores, and lower rates of high school graduation. In 2008, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act made it a federal mandate to promote the educational stability of children in foster care. Currently, the cross-system roles between the education and child welfare systems in maintaining educational stability for children in foster care are not clearly defined and may exacerbate poor educational outcomes.
• To utilize stakeholder generated feedback to examine, across the education and child welfare systems, barriers and strategies impacting the well-being of children in foster care.
Study Design: Informational semi-structured focus groups with adults involved in the child welfare and education systems.
Population: Ten to 15 participants from each of the following five groups in a total of ten group sessions:
(1) foster parents of children in general foster or kinship care,
(2) Philadelphia School District teachers,
(3) Philadelphia School District school counselors,
(4) Philadelphia Department of Human Services caseworkers, and
(5) foster care agency caseworkers.
Focus groups were completed from March 2010 to August 2010. The CSAW team convened a citywide advisory board, including school system and child welfare advocates in December 2010. During the meeting, the investigators shared the results of the study, and the advisory board participants identified specific targets for intervention.
Analysis is complete, and findings were 1) published in a peer reviewed article and 2) summarized in a PolicyLab Evidence to Action brief (see below).
• Simplify guidelines for data sharing and integration across child-serving systems
• Ensure teaming between child welfare, school district, mental health, and family/caregivers following changes in placement
• Innovate models of cost-sharing (including blending of funding) and integration that will produce greater efficiency in service delivery at a time of scarce resources
Noonan K, Matone M, Zlotnik S, Hernandez-Mekonnen R, Watts C, Rubin D, et al. Cross-system barriers to educational success for children in foster care: The front line perspective. Children and Youth Services Review. 2012;34(2):403-408. Read the 1-page study brief.
Blueprint for Change: Education Success for Children in Foster Care
Legal Center for Foster Care and Education, Casey Family Programs, ABA Center on Children and the Law, Education Law Center-PA, and Juvenile Law Center (2008)
A toolkit for change that outlines eight goals and benchmarks for direct case and system reform advocates to use to achieve educational success for children in foster care.
Accessible at http://www.abanet.org/child/education/publications/blueprint_second_edition_final.pdf
Getting Out of the Red Zone: Youth from the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems Speak Out About the Obstacles to Completing Their Education, and What Could Help
Susan Burrell, Staff Attorney at Youth Law Center (2003)
A report that identifies barriers faced by youth in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems in achieving education and employment, and recommendations to alleviate these obstacles.
Accessible at http://www.ylc.org/pdfs/GettingOutoftheRedZone.pdf
Educating Children in Foster Care: State Legislation 2004-2007
National Conference of State Legislature and Excal Consulting Partners LLC (2008)
A review of state legislation enacted between 2004 and 2007 to improve the educational achievement of children in foster care.
Accessible at http://www.ncsl.org/print/cyf/foster_care_education.pdf
Educational Outcomes for Children and Youth in Foster and Out-of-Home Care
National Working Group on Foster Care and Education (2008)
National and state level data on foster care youth related to school placement stability, academic outcomes, special education issues, mental health, supportive factors, and early intervention.
Accessible at http://www.abanet.org/child/education/National_EdFactSheet_2008.pdf
Education Stability Conference, Chicago, October 23-24, 2006: Lessons Learned
Education Law Center-PA, Juvenile Law Center (2006)
Comparison of successful state models of educational stability and proposed amendments to the McKinney Vento Act from a convening including representatives of advocates for children in foster care, foundation staff, and other stakeholders.
Accessible at http://www.abanet.org/child/education/fce-pub.shtml
Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-351
Legislation to connect and support relative caregivers, improve educational outcomes for children in foster care, and increase incentives for adoption.
Accessible at http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h110-6893
Lost in the Shuffle Revisited: The Educational Law Center’s Report on the Education of Children in Foster Care in Pennsylvania
Patrician Powers, Esq. and Janet F. Stotland, Esq., The Education Law Center (2002)
Report identifying the issues, barriers, and policies surrounding educational services, special education, and early intervention services for children in foster care and describing the stakeholders’ and Education Law Center’s recommendations for future change.
Accessible at http://www.elc-pa.org/pubs/downloads/english/dis-lost-in-the-shuffle-revisited-12-02.pdf
Resources for Conference on Confidentiality and Privacy
The Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice & Research (2006)
Resource list on confidentiality and privacy agreements related to education, substance abuse, mental health, domestic abuse, HIPAA, and data sharing for children in foster care.
Accessible at http://www.sp2.upenn.edu/fieldctr/ccp/index.html
States at a Glance: Awaiting Foster Care Placement Under the McKinney-Vento Act
Legal Center for Foster Care & Education (2010)
Summary of state-level definitions of “awaiting foster care placement” under the McKinney-Vento Act.
Accessible at http://www.abanet.org/child/education/publications/AFCPchart.pdf
State child welfare legislation: 2007-2008
National Conference of State Legislature
A review of state legislation enacted between 2007 and 2008 related to children in foster care.
Accessible at www.ncsl.org/documents/cyf/childwelfare_legislation07_08.pdf