How Many Foster Kids Graduate from High School?

Graduation rates for foster children

A Glimpse Into High School Graduation Rates for Foster Youth

In 2019, reports showed over 400,000 children in foster care in the United States. This number has been steady throughout the years. 

Entering foster care brings atypical ways of growing up for youth. Foster care graduation rates for foster youth are much lower than the general population.

Continue reading to learn about the roadblocks for foster youth in education.

Learn how you can make a difference as a foster parent in a child's academic achievement and outcomes for students in the child welfare system and foster care in Virginia.

What is Foster Care?

Foster care is the process of placing children or youth in the care of another adult guardian. The guardian receives a government allowance to support giving the child everyday life necessities.

Those in foster care usually have parents who are unable to support them safely and protectively. Foster care usually involves the legal system or Child Protective Services.

Foster children and youth end up in the care of an assigned guardian through the Department of Social Services DSS. Their first placement generally ends up being temporary.

Reports show that 65% of youth live in more than one placement during care.

Children and youth move to different settings and schools, which impacts academic performance and jeopardizes college education. Foster care settings include relative or non-relative homes, group homes, institutions, or residential live-in centers

There are several impacts on the lifestyle and education of foster children and foster youth living in this environment. 

Education in Foster Care

Past studies have shown low levels of educational success for foster kids. There are several barriers and challenges faced throughout schooling.

Foster youth experience frequent changes in schools. They have weaker relationships with teachers and other students. Without stable and supportive relationships in school, the chance of success is lower. 

Students who frequently change schools feel less commitment. They are less likely to join clubs or after-school activities. Youth lose their sense of belonging. 

So how does this impact how much foster youth end up completing high school? The lack of stability results in higher chances of suspensions, expulsions, needs for special education, and more.

High School Graduation Rates for Foster Youth 

Research shows that the challenges faced while in foster care make it harder for high school-aged children to graduate. They are also less likely to move on to college education.

It's reported that the rate of high school graduates for foster youth is just over half. Barriers in their lives include instability, less time in school, and lacking long-term relationships. They make an impact on their chances of success. 

What's important to understand is that a good education can be a connection to later success. Support needs to be available for kids in foster care to make this possible. 

Keeping foster children in one school under one Department of Education system is beneficial for many reasons. Constant movement between homes means constant movement between schools. They end up losing valuable time and complete education. 

Children in foster care who spend less time in high school are less likely to earn college degrees. This affects foster children's chances of becoming successful, self-sustaining adults.

What Can Change?

The foster care system must also work with educational systems. Programs are in place to support transitions between schools. Suppose it's possible to keep foster children in the same school. In that case, it provides security and allows them to grow relationships. 

Additionally, children and youth may need specialized behavioral and educational support. It needs to be addressed with foster children and implemented when necessary.

It's reported that children get punished more frequently in school settings. They are tagged as the "bad kids" and will fear asking for any support. This also relates to how often they are suspended, expelled, or have police interventions at school. 

What Can Foster Parents Do?

These children and youth want supportive relationships from parents or guardians. They seek the stability they haven't experienced. As a foster parent, you can implement change in early life.

These placements act to provide stable home environments. It removes them from possible negligent or abusive homes. It gives them valuable resources they might not have had access to, including education. 

Providing a positive and supportive environment can prevent youth from experiencing incarceration or other circumstances that keep them out of school. This can also be done through the school system to increase the inclusion of foster parents in the student's experience. 

As a foster family, youth need things from you to become successful graduates. It's important to advocate for and empower them to complete their education. 

Become a Foster Parent in Virginia

High school graduation rates for foster youth can be addressed in multiple ways. Foster children should be treated like any other child going through high school. High school can be a negative experience in itself. The added stress of being in foster care can increase the chances of an unsuccessful future. 

It's important to remember that you are committing to providing a stable home if you are looking to foster a child. Whether the child is returning to their parents, a relative, or considered for adoption, it's still a commitment. 

The parent or guardian will be trained to engage with biological parents if needed. Some foster care agencies and organizations work with people to ensure they feel prepared. 

Foster VA is an organization in Virginia that supports foster care. They have a support team that works alongside the parents and children throughout their journey together. 

With your love and hard work, you can help change a child's life today. Become a foster parent by filling out this simple application and make a difference!

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