Monday, December 7, 2009

Academic Success

According to studies, almost 800,000 children in the United States spend time in foster care each year. These children may change foster homes once or twice a year. Often these moves mean also changing schools. Because of this, it can be hard for them to make significant educational progress. Frequently, they experience delays in enrolling in a new school or difficulties in transferring credits from one school to another. As a result, many foster children lag behind their classmates, lose hope and drop out of school.

To address this problem, in 2008 Congress enacted the Fostering Connections to Success Act—a child welfare law, which, among other things, aims to improve the school stability of foster children. On November 19, 2009 U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Al Franken (D-MN) introduced a bill providing additional resources:

Fostering Success in Education Act, promoting school stability and success for foster children by:

• Forbidding states from segregating foster children by forcing them to attend separate, and often inferior schools, unless it is documented that particular foster children have disabilities that must be addressed in alternative educational settings under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

• Requiring each state Department of Education to designate a foster care coordinator to collaborate with the state child welfare agency.

• Requiring states to create a process for resolving disputes about whether it is in a foster child’s best interest to remain in a particular school after moving to a new school district.

• Requiring states to develop systems to ensure that foster children can transfer and recover credits when they change schools, and that foster children who have attended multiple high schools with different graduation requirements can graduate.

• Providing states, school districts, and child welfare agencies with funding to improve the educational stability of foster children.

In Philadelphia a charter school for high school students who are involved in the foster care system opened this year. Arise Academy seeks to offer rigorous academics along with the social supports needed by these students. Both of these programs show the importance of ensuring that all of our children have a chance to get a good education.

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vella said...
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