Foster Care Homes and their Affect on a Child's Education

 This past semester, Shannon, my co-author,along with myself had the rewarding oppurtunity of student teaching at local schools near the Oxford and Hamilton area. during our student teaching, we both realized that we had a few students who seemed isolated and out of touch with school and thier peers. Later on, we both learned that these students were in foster care homes. We both decided that we were curious enough to pursue this topic of Foster care homes, and how they can affect a child's education and success. 

What is a Foster Care Home?

  • A foster home is a place where children are placed if they were being neglected and abused.
  • In 2013, over 640,000 children spent time in foster homes, and on average, a child will spend between 2-5 years in foster care. 
  • The average age of a foster child is 9. While many people believe that a child remains in the same foster home, the reality is that many of these children bounce around from foster home to foster home until they become adopted or age out of the system. 
  • In 2013 about 23,000 young people aged out of the foster care system wihtout permanent families. Research has shown that those who leave care without beign linked to forever families are highly likely to expirience homelessness, unemployment and incarceration as adults.

Foster homes can be beneficial for some children, but alot of times these children are placed in multiple foster homes, causign them to be uprooted form their lives and placed into a new one. with this being siad, they are constantly moving school systems as well, sometimes setting them back a grade, or allowing them to feel out of place in school. Thi means that some children will struggle with school, and their future, allowing that foster care system to affect their education and achievment.

 

 

There are 3 stages that children go through while in foster care:

  • Insult: This is the stage in which a foster child is abused, neglected, or the parent is unable to take care of their child. In relation to Butler County Children's Services, they usually get a call from the reporter, neighbor, or teacher who says they know that the child is being neglected or abused. Some examples of the abuse are spanking with marks, beign left alone in the car or at home. All in all, a lack of supervision. This is the stage in which suspicions are reported. 
  • Intervention: Once suspicions are reported, two other teams, which consist of two different departments (Intervention Department and the Permanency Department) become involved. A worker investigates the situation and meets with the child and family to see if the allegations are valid. If the situation clearly isn't in the child's favor, the worker waits with the child and takes them back to the agency, and the Foster Care Department begins to look for a Foster home for the child. They look for relatives first and than move onto a Foster or group home. In Butler County there are about 150 Foster Homes. If a child is placed in a foster home, the agency and county allow the parent two visits a week with the child. A court date is than set and happens quickley and all parties are represented. 
  • Remedy: While BCCS finds a home for the child to go into, they continue to investigate the family and ofer them services such as counseling. The goal is to keep the child in their own home if it is not a harmful situation, so Children's Services tries to work with the families, whether it means helping to buy them furniture, help them find employment, or provide them therapy. If the situation is harmful, the chid is sent to a foster home.

In order to become a foster parent, one is typically recruited by another foster parent, according to the Butler County Children's Services. Then , they go through thirty-six hours of training. Children services goes ahead and does a home study and a background check on the potential foster parents. They must certified by the state and able to adopt. There is also an audit and fire inspection done of the home. they also must take part in a narrative where they give their past family history, job and work history, and where they went to school. They need to complete all their paperwork, documents, and go through the state, which has their own policies as well. The process is extensive but thorough, making sure that these children are placed in the safest environments. 

 

What are the Factors and Effects of Foster Care?

1. Psychological Factors: Children will run away from the foster care homes, older children around the age of 15-17 will show signs of aggression towards other children adn towarsds their foster parents. Many children tat are sent to group homes have psychological issues and need therapists to help them to deal. A child in foster care doesn't have a routine daily schedule, so they may cope with situations differently than a child who does. Therapy is an important part of the foster care system, because children who have gone through neglect and abuse have to learn how to cope with their issues, or else they won't be able to cope withother issues out on their own in the real world.

  • According to a study done at Princeton University, the emotional trauma expirienced by many children in the foster care system can harm development and may lead to lower educational achievement. The study estimates that 30-80% of children in foster care have emotional or behavioral issues:

                                 1. Grief, depression, and aggression

                                 2. Withdrawl, sleep troubles, and excessive eating

                                 3. Rocking, failure ot thrive, and attachment disorders

2. Mobility: Foster care children are placed in a home upon removal from their environment, but do not always stay in that home. under 60% of children ill expirience 2-3 foster homes according to National Working Group on Foster Care and Education. When a child is removed from one foster care home to another home, this disrupts their environment, placing them in a new school system, where many times they fall behind in certain classes, and can also put them behind a grade level from their peers. In the midwest, nearly 37% of previous foster youth repeated a grade. Many times, the child makes the decision to drop out of school, especially when class credits do not easily transfer from school to school.

  •  Complete school in 5 years
  • Receive a GED diploma or transcript
  • Other type of schooling (vocational)

When attending a new school, children face certain difficulties. Sharon Custer clarified the difficulties that children face explaining that  "Very few children in care do nto get to attend their own school, so they now are starting their lives over with making new friends, adapting to a new school and home. While on the outside some would think this is a good thing given where they came from, the reality is that the child is grieving their losses, missign their parents, sibings, friends, and other family members. Some children struggle do to this adaptation, but some children are resilient, but it also depends on the foster home." 

3. Success Rate: While many foster care children stay in school, this does not mean that they are successful later down the road. Sitting down to interview with StateImpact, Harold Sloke, 12 years of age when entering the foster care system, said that he repeated the ninth grade three times. He also said that at the time his caseworkers deemed him as a lost cause, saying he wouldn't graduate, and passed him along in the system, allowing him to keep finding himself in trouble. Sloke than proceeded to say, "I probajly wouldn't have graduated...and I could have ended up in prison (if my teacher had not intervined.)" Not all children are as lucky as Harold, and many times when children age out of the system, they have already dropped otu of school, or they do not have a permanent place to live and can't always afford college, setting them up for failure. Foster children are more likely to even skip classes during the school day, or even cut school altogether, adding up their absence days and labeling them as a trouble maker from the beggining. 

 

Attached is a video titled ReMoved. This is a documentary about a girl and her brother who were removed from their home and placed into the foster care system. It goes through the stages and steps that foster care children through, like the removal, and the adjustment periods, as well as some of the psychological effects that their old environment could have had on them. They are currenty making a ReMoved part II, wich will focus on her education, and how foster care is affecting her there.

thechildrenarewaiting.org/adoption/fostercare/ohio/ - Foster Care Adoption

 

stateimpact.npr.org/ohio/2014/08/04/the-impact-of-foster-care-on-students-education/

www.childrensrights.org/newsroom/fact-sheets/foster-care/

Stukes Chipungu, Sandra, and Tricia B. Bent-Goodley. "Meeting the Challenges of Contemporary Foster Care." Journal Issue: Children, Families, and Foster Care 14.1 (2004).The Future of Children. Princeton University. Web. 27 Apr. 2015. <https://www.princeton.edu/futureofchildren/publications/journals/article/index.xml?journalid=40&articleid=135§ionid=888>.

 

 

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