April 01, 2014

What's the Chatter

The views expressed herein have not been approved by the House of Delegates or the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association, and accordingly, should not be construed as representing the policy of the American Bar Association.

On January 30, 2014, the National Working Group on Foster Care and Education led a conversation on Twitter, a “tweet chat,” as a follow-up to the two congressional briefings. The group posed questions for the panelists and participants to answer via Twitter. Below are highlights from the discussion.

What is the most important support young people in foster care need to achieve education success?

Education success means foster youth have the opportunity to succeed in school, through college, and succeed in life. To achieve this, youth need support networks of dedicated, knowledgeable and caring adults (such as caseworkers, foster parents, siblings, teachers, and coaches) who can support them in school and provide stability. 

What unique education issues do young people in residential foster care (group homes, treatment facilities) face?

Children in residential care often don’t have anyone who will advocate for their needs in school, such as Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and other special supports, even though they tend to have a greater need for such supports. Also, rules in residential care often leave youth with little opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities. 

How can child welfare agencies help youth in foster care achieve education success? 

Child welfare agencies can empower foster youth by teaching them how to advocate for themselves and speak up about their needs. Agencies can also collaborate with education agencies, including higher education, to create foster youth support programs and improve interagency sharing. 

Only 2% of young people from foster care graduate college. How can we increase this percentage?

Colleges can make special housing accommodations (such as year-round housing) for foster youth. Colleges can also establish mentoring programs for ongoing social and emotional support. States can also expand tuition support/waiver programs for foster youth.