For youth in the care or custody of the state, school attendance and achievement provide an opportunity to experience normalcy, when other facets of their lives are in disarray. For young people who lack the safety net of family in adulthood, a high quality education is essential. However, national and state data indicate that young people in state care face unique challenges and experience opportunity gaps, falling behind in educational performance measures.
This issue brief reviews highlights of these data and several factors that may contribute to their lower academic performance, including experiences of trauma, insufficient parental support, frequent shifts between schools, limited access to high quality schools, greater absences from school, the use of exclusionary discipline practices, and insufficient individualized education supports.
Successful efforts to close the educational opportunity gap for children in State care must encompass reforms across both education and child welfare policy. Raising the grade for youth in State care will requires collaborative action by the Department of Children and Families, the State Department of Education, and local public schools, so that all children and youth in State care receive a high quality education.