The overwhelming need for stability for the estimated 6,000 school-age children in the Arizona foster system was highlighted recently in the Arizona Republic story "Activists want foster kids to stop changing schools."
The impermanence of foster care is one reason foster children are among the most at-risk in society. Adults who were formerly in foster care are more likely to be incarcerated and dependent on state services than the general population. Early warning signs are seen in the classroom, where foster children have lower test scores and higher absenteeism, tardiness, and truancy than average.
Frequently changing schools makes matters worse. The Department of Education estimates that children lose about four to six months each time they transfer to a new school. One out of two foster children ultimately fail to graduate from high school.
One remedy is found in a new report by Goldwater Institute senior fellow and Heritage Foundation education analyst Dan Lips. In the study published by the Maryland Public Policy Institute, Lips finds that "offering children in foster care opportunity scholarships could address some of the common problems plaguing the educational experience of foster care children, such as instability and persistent low expectations." Schools can also tailor educational services to the unique needs of foster children, including the requirement for greater life skills and self-sufficiency training.
- School Choice for Foster Children: Fostering Stability, Satisfaction and Achievement
- Arizona Republic: "Activists want foster kids to stop changing schools"
- Assessing the Long Term Effects of Foster Care: A Research Synthesis