Education and Child Welfare
For resources on Fostering Connections and Education, click here.

For information about, and resources from, the event, Child Welfare, Education and the Courts: A Collaboration to Strengthen Educational Successes of Children and Youth in Foster Care (November 3-4, 2011), click here.

Resources (General)

  • Fostering Success in Education: National Factsheet on the Educational Outcomes of Children in Foster Care
    The Working Group on Foster Care and Education, facilitated by the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education, has released an updated version of their data factsheet on foster care and education. This factsheet describes the educational challenges and opportunities for children in foster care and includes a summary of research on this topic. (January 2014)

  • What Is Child Welfare? A Guide for Educators
    This Child Welfare Information Gateway guide for educators provides an overview of child welfare, describes how educators and child welfare workers can help each other, and lists resources for more information. (August 2012)

  • Addressing the Unmet Educational Needs of Children and Youth in the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems
    The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) recently released the second edition of this publication, which contains updated resources, including materials developed by The National Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent, or At Risk (NDTAC). This paper outlines potential strategies, programs and resources that will enable political and agency leaders, policymakers, and practitioners to act collaboratively across systems to effectively improve the educational outcomes for youth known to multiple systems of care. (May 2010; Second Edition, 2012)

  • Providing Individually Tailored Academic and Behavioral Support Services for Youth in the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems
    This NDTAC practice guide examines the principle that individually tailored academic and behavioral support services should be provided to foster better outcomes for youth involved with the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. This principle focuses on the fact that, to address the academic hardships faced by youth involved with these systems—changes in placement, family mobility, disabling conditions, economic disadvantage, and involvement in the justice system—education providers need to provide supports that address students’ unique needs. (2012)

  • Improving Educational Outcomes for Youth in the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems Through Interagency Communication and Collaboration.
    This NDTAC practice guide examines the principle that interagency communication and collaboration is vital to fostering better outcomes for youth involved with the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. Before systems can offer high-quality education services, including those focused on young children, providers within the system must work together to align resources and capitalize on each other’s strengths. In doing so, education and related services can be better tailored to meet the needs of children and youth. Successful interagency communication and collaboration require strong leadership within and between agencies, to champion and sustain collaborative efforts. (2011)

  • College Preparation Checklist
    This checklist, developed by the Department of Education, is for students of all ages who haven't attended college or trade school, and parents of students in elementary and secondary school. It includes a “to do" list, starting with elementary school, to help students prepare academically and financially for education beyond high school.
  • Materials from 2011 NDTAC National Conference Available Online
    The 2011 NDTAC National Conference: “Leading and Managing Change for Program Improvement” took place June 1-3, 2011, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The conference brought together State Title I, Part D, coordinators; experts in the field; and U.S. Department of Education and DTAC staff to discuss Federal and State Title I, Part D-focused activities, including successful administration, evaluation, and other practices related to educational programming for youth who are neglected, delinquent, or at risk of academic failure. Given the diverse changes that are occurring throughout the country at the Federal, State, and local levels, the conference planning committee identified “change” as the overarching theme for this conference. With that theme in mind, the conference focused on three strands: responding to change, promoting change through the use of effective practices, and making change proactively within existing systems. Visit The National Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Children and Youth Who are Neglected, Delinquent, or At-Risk (NDTAC) to access conference presentations, handouts, and activities. (2011)

Resources on Data and Information Sharing
For recent resources on FERPA and USA, click here.

  • Putting the Pieces Together: Guidebook for Fact-based Decision Making to Improve Outcomes for Children and Families 
    This guidebook from the Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health provides important basics that will help staff who are new to using data to more effectively identify, use, and evaluate and monitor practices, services, and outcomes for children, youth, and families.  It is intended for staff across human service systems that support young people and their families as part of a comprehensive array of services within a system of care, including child welfare, mental health, juvenile justice, education, and health care.  The guidebook is intended to be a practical tool for getting started in using data for decision making, conducting analysis, and presenting and communicating findings.  Appendices include sources for data and data indicators and an annotated bibliography for further reading. (October 2012)
  • Connecting the Dots: Data Sharing in States and Communities
    Data-sharing is an important topic, given the myriad of systems and software that house information about our communities.  Whether you are a teacher, parent or policymaker, aligned and connected data can have a powerful impact on direct relationships with young people and how you move toward the overarching outcomes that you want to achieve for young people in your community.  This archived Ready by 21 webinar, hosted by the Forum for Youth Investment, can help you learn about community and state data alignment work, as well as potential tools to improve your effectiveness. (April 2012)

Child Welfare/Education Collaborations – State Examples

  • Meeting the Educational Needs of Students in the Child Welfare System: Lessons Learned from the Field
    This report describes the efforts and outcomes of Project Achieve, a program that pairs Advocates for Children of New York, a non-profit that provides education advocacy to low-income students in New York City, with local foster care and preventive services agencies. The project, which places an attorney, a non-attorney advocate, and a Project Associate on site at least once a week at partnering foster care and preventive services agencies, operated at Forestdale, Inc. from September 2004 to June 2009 and at Graham Windham's Brooklyn-based Neighborhood Family Service Center from September 2005 to June 2009. During this time, Project Achieve assisted staff and families with 916 referrals and conducted 49 workshops for staff, birth parents, foster parents, and youth. In order to evaluate Project Achieve's impact at Forestdale and Graham Windham, data was collected on referrals received between September 2004 and June 2009. Evaluation forms from 277 parents and child welfare professionals who attended workshops were also collected, 39 agency staff members were surveyed, 18 birth, foster, and adoptive parents were interviewed, and two program directors from Forestdale and one program director from Graham Windham were interviewed. Findings indicate Project Achieve successfully resolved all of the students' presenting educational concerns in 78% of the 130 cases the project took on for legal representation. Recommendations for child welfare agencies are made for improving educational outcomes of students involved with the child welfare system. The report was issued by Advocates for Children of New York. (July 2012)

  • Addressing the Unmet Educational Needs of Children and Youth in the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems
    Georgetown Public Policy Institute's Center for Juvenile Justice Reform released this paper, written by Peter Leone, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, and Lois Weinberg, California State University, Los Angeles, CA. This paper reviews educational barriers encountered by youth involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems and describes recent legal and policy reforms. Promising practices and evidence-based interventions to improve educational outcomes for these system-involved youth are also provided. (2010)
  • Grappling with the Gaps: Toward a Research Agenda to Meet the Educational Needs of Children and Youth in Foster Care
    Expert viewpoints about improving educational outcomes for children and youth in foster care are summarized in this report, prepared by WestEd and commissioned by Ready to Succeed, a multi-year California based initiative to improve school readiness, school success, and data sharing across education, child welfare, mental health, and judicial systems. This report sets the groundwork to suggest new research priorities for improving policies and practices related to the educational outcomes of children and youth in foster care. It summarizes what a group of influential leaders said about our understanding of school readiness, school success, and data sharing, and the research needed to address the education disadvantages that children and youth in foster care often face. (2010)
  • Meeting the Education Requirements of Fostering Connections: Learning from the Field
    This brief, authored by Margaret Flynn-Khan and available on the Finance Project website, aims to help agency leaders, policymakers, judges, and their partners understand and respond effectively to the education requirements of Fostering Connections by reflecting on lessons learned from a decade of initiatives to improve education outcomes for youth in and leaving foster care. It focuses on how policies and practices implemented in response to Fostering Connections can provide the foundation for collaborative education supports that lead more youth in foster care to complete high school and pursue and succeed in postsecondary education. The brief is organized in alignment with lessons learned from innovative education projects around the nation. Namely, child welfare agencies, education agencies, and courts all have critical roles to play in supporting education achievement for youth in foster care. Moreover, success is a function of the strength of collaboration across these systems. Following an overview of the requirements of Fostering Connections, the brief includes a framework for effective cross-system coordination and highlights actions that leaders of the child welfare system, education system, and courts can take to promote education success for youth in care. The brief also provides examples of existing state and local efforts to improve the education continuity and stability of older youth in foster care. Note: This resource is offered as informational material only and is NOT meant to be used for guidance in implementing federal policy. NRCPFC does not interpret federal legislation or state policy. (2010)

  • Beyond the Basics: How Extracurricular Activities Can Benefit Foster Youth
    Extracurricular activities can play an important role in youths’ overall academic performance, as it can enhance the school experience and often has positive effects on attendance, motivation, academic achievement, and behavior. Despite this fact, few states have laws that support foster youth participation in these activities, and there are few existing policies guiding caregivers and others involved with foster youth on how to support their involvement in these activities. Foster youth need emotional and practical support from caregivers and caseworkers, flexibility on the part of teachers and coaches, and state laws that protect their right to fully participate in school-related activities. This article, by Stephanie Klitsch, discusses how extracurricular activities can benefit foster youth and offers recommendations for changes that can support their participation. (Youth Law News, October-December 2010.)
  • The Fostering Connections Act builds on prior law by adding a new requirement that case plans ensure the educational stability of the child in foster care and by also requiring Title IV-E state plans show that each child receiving a Title IV-E foster care, adoption or guardianship payment is a full-time school student, or is incapable of attending school due to a documented medical condition. NRCPFC compiled these documents as a tool for State peer-to-peer sharing about successful education and child welfare collaborations to meet these requirements. Some of the information was relayed directly to NRCPFC in response to a survey of State Foster Care Managers and outreach by NRCPFC. Other information was retrieved from the “Fostering Connections Implementation State Survey” available on the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators website.
    • Child Welfare/Education Collaborations (Highlights)
      This document highlights child welfare/education collaborations in Delaware, Nebraska, New York, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. (December 2010)
    • Child Welfare/Education Collaborations (Full Review)
      This document provides information on the status of efforts to meet the education requirements of Fostering Connections in 35 States and the District of Columbia, providing information on policies, practices, and approaches to collaboration between systems. (December 2010)
  • Improving Educational Continuity and School Stability for Children in Out-of-Home Care
    This report from the Casey Family Programs Breakthrough Series Collaborative (BSC) presents the lessons learned from a project that brought together nine public child welfare agencies and their associated school systems to test practice changes that would ultimately improve educational continuity and school stability for children in out-of home care. The nine participating jurisdictions tested practice strategies and tools on a small scale, shared lessons learned, and implemented the most successful of those strategies throughout their systems. Strategies fell into three categories: Cross-systems strategies, such as co-locating agency personnel in the school system and including education information in court reports; school stability and mobility-focused strategies, such as increasing transportation options to allow children to stay in their home schools; and, advocacy strategies, such as using data collection to improve education outcomes. (December 2009)

  • Foster Care and Education - Tools and Resources for Improving the Education Success of Children and Youth in Foster Care
    This guide from the National Working Group on Foster Care and Education identifies key resources and tools designed to help attorneys, CASAs/GALs, child welfare practitioners and administrators, educators, foster parents and kinship caregivers, judges, policymakers, parents and other family members, and youth themselves understand the diverse issues affecting a child’s education, and ways to advocate and ensure positive educational outcomes for children and youth in foster care. It also provides basic information, facts, and figures on foster care and education as well as information on the National Working Group on Foster Care and Education.
  • HUD—GreatSchools Partnership: Coordinating Housing Assistance with Educational Opportunities
    The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has partnered with GreatSchools, a national non-profit educational resource for parents, to provide their free web-based tool to parents who live in public housing or who receive Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) rental assistance. This user-friendly website offers a database of more than 200,000 PreK-12 public, charter, magnet and private schools across the U.S., and includes information on how parents can choose the best school for their children. It also features about 2,000 articles and videos that provide information on how parents can help their children be successful in school with free materials such as subject-based worksheets, parent-teacher conference information, homework help tips, college preparation support, and answers to parenting questions.

    To support your outreach efforts to make the GreatSchools web-based resources easily accessible to residents, please see the following supplemental information.
    • A Script for PHAs
      This one-pager (in English and Spanish) will help PHAs easily translate the features of the website to parents by highlighting the most helpful aspects of the website in simple, concise language.

    • GreatSchools Fact Sheet
      This two-page handout for parents (in English and Spanish) lists five easy steps to choosing a new school.

    • Top 10 Tips for Parents
      This one-page handout (in English and Spanish) lists the 10 most important ways parents can help their kids succeed in school.

    • School Chooser Workbook for Parents
      This printable booklet (in English and Spanish) is a handy spot for parents to jot down their thoughts, questions, and answers when they are looking at schools for their kids. For any parent new to the process of choosing a school, this step-by-step guide helps demystify searching, applying, and enrolling in PreK-12 schools.

Resources on Early Childhood Education

  • Collaborative Partnerships Between Early Care & Education and Child Welfare: Supporting Infants, Toddlers, and Their Families Through Risk to Resilience
    The Administration on Children, Youth and Families and the Administration on Children and Families, Office of Child Care issued a joint informational memorandum in 2011 titled “Child Welfare and Child Care Partnerships: Partnering with Families Involved in Child Care Subsidy Programs” to highlight the priority placed on partnerships across these agencies to better serve vulnerable child populations and families. One of the priorities of the Office of Child Care (OCC) is to help States reach infants and toddlers who are in or at risk of entering the child welfare system. This brief continues and extends collaboration discussions in ECE systems to include the child welfare system. It builds on the OCC’s priorities in helping States think about how ECE programs can reach the youngest and most vulnerable families of infants and toddlers who are in or at risk of entering the child welfare system. (August 2011)
  • Need for Early Intervention Services Among Infants and Toddlers in Child Welfare
    The Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers (P.L. 99-457), now known as Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), was established by the federal government in 1986 "to encourage states to expand opportunities for children less than 3 years of age who would be at risk of having substantial developmental delay if they did not receive early intervention services." After the child is assessed to determine the need for services, an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is developed in collaboration with the child's caregiver. A legal document, the IFSP is written to identify goals and individualized supports and services that will enhance the child's development. Little research is available to help us understand how many infants and toddlers involved in maltreatment investigations are in need of Part C services or to what extent such children have already been served under Part C and/or are later referred to special education services and have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). This research brief examines the need for and provision of an IFSP during the first 3 years of life among infants and toddlers involved in investigations of child maltreatment.

Guides on K-12 Education

  • Accessing Educational Supports for Youth In Out-of-Home Care
    Child welfare agencies may be able to help minimize delays in school enrollment and provide other supports to children and youth in foster care through the McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act. McKinney-Vento ensures that children are entitled to continued enrollment in their home school or immediate enrollment in a new school. The act also provides a stream of federal funding for an array of supports, including but not limited to tutoring, transportation, and cash assistance to ensure the participation of homeless children and youth in elementary and secondary school. Although the act was developed for children who are homeless, communities nationwide have applied McKinney-Vento eligibility to young people who have run away from a foster home, group home, or other placement, and children in a number of temporary living arrangements including shelters, foster homes, group homes, and evaluation centers. Each school district is required to appoint a McKinney-Vento liaison. Your state education coordinator can give you the contact information for your local liaison. A list of state coordinators is available from the National Center for Homeless Education at

  • Blueprint for Change: Education Success for Children in Foster Care
    This document from the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education describes eight goals for youth and benchmarks for each goal that would indicate progress toward achieving educational success. Included are national, state, and local examples of policies, practices, programs and resources to improve educational outcomes for children in foster care. (2008)

  • Q&A: Blueprint for Change: Education Success for Children in Foster Care
    This resource from the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education is a “Question & Answer Factsheet” about the Blueprint for Change (a detailed framework that includes goals and benchmarks for children and youth that will help ensure their education success). It answers questions about the development of the Blueprint, its target audience, and how it should be used. (2008)
  • Make a Difference in a Child's Life: A Manual for Helping Children and Youth Get What They Need in School
    With the support of Casey Family Programs, TeamChild developed an education advocacy manual and training for foster parents, social workers, and others involved with foster youth to help them be more effective advocates for this at-risk population. This 201-page manual is a valuable resource for anyone who wishes to advocate for a child's education. Included are chapters covering basic education rights, special education law, discipline, and resources for young people transitioning to adulthood. Also included is an extensive resource guide with links to Washington State and federal education law. Much of the law cited in the Manual is specific to Washington State, although the special education chapters and the general advocacy resources may be helpful to others around the country. (January 2008)

  • A Road Map for Learning: Improving Educational Outcomes in Foster Care
    This guide from Casey Family Programs is for everyone working towards successful educational outcomes for youth in foster care or out-of-home care. The book provides a modular framework for achieving collaboration across the federal, state, and local legal, educational, and child welfare systems. Emphasizing the needs of K-12 students, it contains resources for parents, caregivers, teachers, and child welfare professionals. (2004)

Resources on K-12 Education

  • Helping Your Children Succeed in School
    Children who have been in foster care often face difficulties succeeding in school. Children may act out or have trouble learning due to fear or sadness. They can fall behind if they switch schools. And they are likely to be placed in special education. Parents may not know how to access school-based services and may be intimidated by school personnel. In this issue of Rise magazine, parents write about how they advocate for the supports their children need to succeed in school. Rise magazine is written by and for parents involved in the child welfare system. Its mission is to help parents advocate for themselves and their children. (2009)
  • Q&A: Credit Transfer and School Completion
    This resource from the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education is a “Question & Answer Factsheet” addressing issues related to credit transfer and school completion by youth in out-of-home care. The document includes examples from around the country of how credit calculation and grade requirements for highly mobile students have been addressed, as well as recommendations for what states can do to address the challenges that prevent youth in care from transferring credit or graduating. (2008)
  • Q&A: Surrogate Parent Programs
    This resource from the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education is a “Question & Answer Factsheet” addressing issues including when and how a surrogate parent is appointed, the key components of an effective surrogate parent program, and questions related to state level surrogate parent programs. (2008)
  • Q&A: Collecting Data to Improve Educational Outcomes for Children in Out-of-Home Care
    This resource from the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education is a “Question & Answer Factsheet” discussing the importance of collecting data on the educational performance of children in care, statistical data that the education system collects regarding children in out-of-home care, statistical data the child welfare system collects, the types of data education and child welfare systems should collect, what you can do to encourage your jurisdiction to collect data on educational outcomes for children in out-of-home care, and examples of data collection efforts that have improved student outcomes. (2008)
  • Q&A: Information Sharing to Improve Educational Outcomes for Children in Out-of-Home Care
    This resource from the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education is a “Question & Answer Factsheet” related to information sharing to improve educational outcomes for children in out-of-home care; it covers topics such as confidentiality laws, examples of methods agencies have used to share data without triggering parental consent requirements, circumstances under which personally identifiable information can be shared with other agencies, and examples of information sharing and collaborative efforts that have improved educational outcomes. (2008)
  • Educating Children in Foster Care: State Legislation 2004 - 2007
    This report from NCSL, a companion to the one above, reviews state legislation enacted between 2004 and 2007 to improve the educational experiences and opportunities of children and youth in foster care. It also provides information on laws and policies regarding early learning and foster care which were not included in the first report. (March/2008)
  • Conversation with an Educator
    Lynne Steyer Noble is Associate Professor of Education at Columbia College in South Carolina and is both a biological and adoptive parent. She has fostered many children, has trained foster and adoptive parents and caseworkers for the South Carolina Department of Social Services, and has made adoptive placements through her private adoption agency. She is truly the epitome of the term “resource parent.” In her role as an educator, but with her experience as a parent, she talked with Casey Family Programs National Center for Resource Family Support about children in foster care in the school setting. (March 2005)
  • The Educational Experiences of Children in Out-of-Home Care
    This report presents findings from a mixed-method study assessing the educational performance and experiences of youth in out-of-home care. Data from Chapin Hall's Integrated Database on Child and Family Services in Illinois were used to track the educational performance, school mobility, and participation in special education of CPS students in foster care. In addition, qualitative interviews with caseworkers, foster parents, and school staff throughout Illinois provided valuable insights into the context and processes underlying the educational experiences of students in care. (2004)
  • Educating Children in Foster Care
    This report from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) provides some background about the academic performance of children in foster care and describes what researchers have identified as major systemic obstacles to these children's academic success. It also examines what the Child and Family Services Reviews are saying about state performance in this area and describes some promising state initiatives to address foster children's educational needs. (2003)
  • Educational Alternatives for Vulnerable Youth: Student Needs, Program Types, and Research Directions
    Non-college-bound youth and those who have not done well in traditional public schools have largely been left behind by the high-stakes assessment movement and its high academic standards. This report examines the need for alternative education for such vulnerable youth and describes the numbers and characteristics of young people who disconnect from mainstream developmental pathways. It suggests the beginnings of a typology that defines and organizes the varieties of educational alternatives. Youth leaving foster care are one of the vulnerable populations included in the discussion. (2003)

Guides on Post-Secondary Education

  • Providing Effective Financial Aid Assistance to Students from Foster Care and Unaccompanied Homeless Youth (Version 2.0) 
    The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), the California Community College Chancellor’s Office and Casey Family Programs released this updated guide for compliance with the current FAFSA. The publication provides information for anyone who helps youth from foster care and unaccompanied homeless youth to secure financial aid for postsecondary education or training programs. (September 2011)

  • Foster Youth: Tips for Completing the FAFSA
    Each year the National Association of Financial Aid Administrators updates a Tips for Foster Youth Worksheet on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).This 2008 guide is for financial aid administrators in helping youth in foster care complete the FAFSA. It addresses difficulties that youth in foster care and wards of the court may experience when filling out the FAFSA. This site contains many other helpful resources on student financial aid. (2008)

  • It's My Life: Postsecondary Education and Training
    A resource guide from Casey Family Programs for child welfare professionals to help young people from foster care prepare academically, financially, and emotionally for postsecondary education and training success. (2006)

  • A Practical Guide for People with Disabilities who Want to Go to College
    This guide was developed to help people with a limited knowledge of educational opportunities after high school secure the resources and support networks they need to give them the best chance for success. The guide can assist with planning and preparing for challenges. It includes the following sections: Finding the Right School; Locating Supports While at School; Managing Your Disability at School; and, Getting a Job. It was authored by Roody McNair, BA, and Arlene Solomon, MS, CRC, CPRP, of Horizon House Employment Services.
Resources on Post-Secondary Education
  • College Access and Success for Students Experiencing Homelessness: A Toolkit for Educators and Service Providers
    This toolkit from The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) serves as a comprehensive resource on the issue of higher education access and success for homeless students. It provides local homeless education liaisons, State Coordinators for Homeless Education, school counselors, college admission counselors, college financial aid administrators, and youth shelters and other service providers with the resources they need to understand the options and supports available for college-bound homeless youth and assist these youth in accessing them. In addition to providing information on understanding homeless students, the toolkit includes the following sections: Choosing a College, Fee Waivers, Paying for College: Federal Aid, Paying for College: Beyond Federal Aid, and Supporting Student Success in College. (June 2013)

  • Is College for Me?: I Haven’t Prepared for Life after High School
    In this Youth Communication Story, youth author Breanna King shares her challenges, goals, and plans related to continuing her education beyond high school. In her senior year, Breanna realizes that she needs to get her grades up if she wants to get into college. Looming deadlines and mixed messages from her family contribute to her anxiety about the future. A video and lesson plan accompany the story. (2012)
  • Student Ambassadors Blog about College Life
    Forestdale, a Queens, New York nonprofit group that provides social service to families, has launched an initiative in which five students, who have been in foster care and are now in college, are writing for a year about college life to help others in foster care stay on track and graduate.

    Also, see the article on the “Student Ambassadors” (June 30, 2011).
  • Supporting Success: Improving Higher Education Outcomes for Students from Foster Care
    Few students from foster care ever gain access to higher education programs, let alone graduate from college. Only 7 to 13 percent of students from foster care enroll in higher education. About 2 percent obtain bachelor’s degrees, in contrast to about 26 percent of adults in the general population. Young people from foster care often report that few people in their lives ever expected them to attend and succeed in college. They seldom receive the guidance and stable supports needed to prepare for higher education. Too often, unemployment, underemployment, and homelessness face young adults after they age out of the system. Colleges, policymakers, and advocates have begun to address this issue with calls for policy advances, practice innovations, and influential advocacy. Casey Family Programs’ framework—Supporting Success: Improving Higher Education Outcomes for Students from Foster Care—provides program development tools for administrators, student support services staff, advisors, and advocates. It helps education professionals define a plan for improving their institution’s support for students from foster care. Postsecondary institutions may also find the customizable Program Planning and Improvement Guide useful for assessing current supports and identifying opportunities for growth. A Microsoft Word file, the guide is intended to be a working document. It may also generate reflections and questions to guide the planning effort. (2010)
  • 25 Tips to Afford College
    Produced in both English and Spanish, 25 Tips to Afford College provides viewers with easy-to-digest information about grants, loans, jobs, and public service options that will help them pay for college. Topics and tips include budgeting, scholarships, apartment vs. dorm, carpooling, community college, summer school vs. summer job, the FAFSA form, taking more credits, HOPE credit, AP classes, sibling discounts, online registration, application fee, work study programs, transferring credits, tax breaks, CLEP tests, and starting a 529 account. 25 Tips to Afford College is available on the America’s Promise Alliance website; it was underwritten by the Selective Service System, and will be distributed to public television stations and their web sites nationally by the National Education Telecommunications Association (NETA). (2010)
  • Does Extending Foster Care beyond Age 18 Promote Postsecondary Educational Attainment?
    Although foster youth approaching the transition to adulthood have postsecondary educational aspirations similar to those of young people in the general population, for too many foster youth with these aspirations, a college education remains an unfulfilled dream. Previous analyses of data from the Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth (the Midwest Study) suggested that young people may be more likely to pursue their postsecondary educational goals if they are allowed to remain in foster care until age 21 rather than 18, as has traditionally been the case. This Chapin Hall issue brief reviews the data that were initially reported and presents more-recent data from the same longitudinal study regarding the relationship between postsecondary educational attainment and extending foster care until age 21. The authors, Amy Dworsky and Mark Courtney, also explore possible barriers to educational attainment that may confront these young people. (March 2010)
  • Helping Former Foster Youth Graduate from College: Campus Support Programs in California and Washington State
    Campus support programs provide financial, academic, and other types of supports to help former foster youth succeed in college. However, relatively little is known about the impact of these programs on college retention or graduation rates. This Chapin Hall study by Amy Dworsky and Alfred Perez lays the groundwork for an impact evaluation by examining program implementation from two different perspectives. Researchers conducted telephone interviews with the directors of 10 campus support programs in California and Washington State. The interviews covered a variety of domains, including the population served, referral sources and recruitment, the application process, the provision of services and supports, program staff, relationships with stakeholders, and data collection. In addition, participants from 8 of the 10 programs completed a web-based survey that asked about their perceptions of and experiences with the program. The survey included questions about students’ demographic characteristics, referral and recruitment, the application process, reasons for participating in the program, services and supports received, unmet needs, contact with staff, and recommendations for improvement. The report concludes with several recommendations for moving forward with a methodologically sound impact evaluation of campus support programs for former foster youth. (2009)
  • Q&A: Tuition Waivers for Post-Secondary Education
    This resource from the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education is a “Question & Answer Factsheet” covering topics related to tuitions waivers for post-secondary education, including why some states offer tuition waivers to foster youth, schools at which tuition waivers can be used, and expenses that tuition waivers cover. (2008)
  • College Access, Financial Aid, and College Success for Undergraduates from Foster Care
    This report from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators first describes the nature of the foster care system and how the overall experience of youth in foster care harms their ability to access higher education. Next, the report uses two data sources from the National Center for Education Statistics to compare the demographic characteristics, socioeconomic status, financial aid packages, college enrollment status, and persistence and degree attainment rates among undergraduate students who are from foster care with those who are not. Finally, the report concludes by providing recommendations for policymakers and practitioners to make higher education accessible to more youth in foster care and to improve the rate at which this group persists and subsequently completes their degree programs. (July 2006)
  • Higher Education Opportunities for Foster Youth: A Primer for Policy Makers
    This Institute for Higher Education Policy report argues that foster youth are the most disadvantaged group when it comes to opportunities for higher learning. Out of the 150,000 who have graduated from high school and are college qualified, only some 30,000 are attending postsecondary education. The report recommends several key policy changes to address such obstacles as low educational expectations, frequent disruptions and changes in school placements, underdeveloped independent living skills, and lack of access to mental health care and treatment. (December 2005)
  • Educating Youth In Care: The First Year of Education and Training Vouchers
    In 2001, the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Provisions added a sixth purpose to the existing Foster Care Independence Act (FCIA) that called for the availability of Education and Training Vouchers. These Vouchers were funded in Fiscal Year 2004 for the first time and offered students money to continue their education. This program has impacted the way states provide post-secondary education services to adolescents in many ways. The National Child Welfare Resource Center for Youth Development has analyzed how states have implemented the program and have evaluated what areas seem to be working for states and areas that should be focused on for additional study. (2004)

State Reports and Resources
Visit the National Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues for a full page devoted to educational issues of vulnerable children, including those in foster care and homeless, searchable by state.

  • California
    • Ready to Succeed: Changing Systems to Give California's Foster Children the Opportunity They Deserve to be Ready for and Succeed in School
      This report from the California Education Collaborative for Children in Foster Care describes the Collaborative’s charge and products, briefly summarizes some of the relevant research that the group considered in developing its recommendations, and identifies specific recommendations in three areas: school readiness, school success, and data sharing. (2008)
    • Foster Youth Education
      Mental Health Advocacy Services provides a number of useful documents, including a study of school stability, a handbook for parents and caregivers, recommendations for improving education for youth in foster care, a guide to the educational liaison model, and barriers to improving educational outcomes. (2008)
  • Colorado
    Advocating for the Educational Needs of Children in Out-of-Home Care: Training Curriculum for Child Welfare
    The Cutler Institute for Child and Family Policy has developed this training curriculum and caseworker manual for the State of Colorado Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS. These materials are designed to provide child welfare caseworkers and their supervisors with an understanding of the relevant educational policies, processes, assessments and plans; methods for monitoring outcomes and services; and tools to enable them to advocate for the educational needs of children in the child welfare system. The curriculum covers educational needs from birth through age 21 and is currently being adapted for use by educators and foster parents. The Appendix contains a toolkit of checklists such as tips for participating in an IEP meeting and what foster parents can do to promote educational success at home. (Updated April 2010)

  • Florida:
    Everybody’s a Teacher: How to Help Children and Youth in Foster Care Get the Best Education Possible. Backpack.
    Developed by the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Everybody’s a Teacher initiative is designed to encourage individuals and communities to become involved in the education of children and youth in foster care and address issues that often stand in the way of their doing well in school. The backpack toolkit includes information on: strategies for encouraging a community conversation to improve educational outcomes for children in foster care; using an Action Plan to record the choices that reflect the community conversation; mythbusting and providing information about foster care youth; including young people in planning and in presentations; using national, State, and local data to provide a baseline to measure improvement; and using ice breakers to spur group interactions. Answers to frequently asked questions about foster care youth and education are offered, as well as ideas for people who want to help, sample discussion questions for community conversations, and resources for professionals. A sample PowerPoint presentation, Action Plan, invitation, press release, agenda, and ground rules are also provided, as well as talking points for a video on the educational challenges faced by foster youth.
  • Maine
    The Maine School Transfer Policy and Practice for Children in Care provides child welfare caseworkers with guidelines and strategies that support positive educational outcomes for children in the custody of the state of Maine. It includes strategies that guide the enrollment in and transfer between schools that ensure a smooth transition to a new school that is sensitive to the individual needs of each child. (November 2005)
  • New Mexico:
    Best Practices - Education Advocacy
    This bulletin outlines best practices and describes the roles of caseworkers, judges, attorneys, court staff, and CASA volunteers. (June 2005)
  • New York
    • Advocates for Children works on behalf of children who are at greatest risk for school-based discrimination and/or academic failure, including children in foster care children.
    • A Parent’s Guide to College
      This free guide from the New York Urban League is designed for caregivers of students who are the first generation in their family to attend college. The guide looks at college preparation from entering ninth grade through senior year of high school, as well as examining local options of the CUNY and SUNY system and historically black colleges. This guide will help parents, foster parents, and other caring adults take an active role in helping teens get a college education.
  • Pennsylvania
    The Education Law Center and the Pennsylvania School Reform Network offer a number of reports and resources concerning educational issues affecting children in foster care and juvenile justice placements, including:
    • Educating Children "At Risk:" A Handbook for Caseworkers, Probation Officers and Family
    • Lost in the Shuffle Revisited: The Education Law Center's Report on the Education of Children in Foster Care in Pennsylvania
    • Common Myths About the Education of Children in Foster Care
    • Special Education & Children with Disabilities Aged 3-21 Living in Out-of-Home Care
  • Texas:
    Texas Foster Care & Student Success Resource Guide
    This resource guide from the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the Supreme Court of Texas Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families (Children’s Commission), and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) provides education professionals with information, resources, and tools to support the educational experience of students in foster care.  It includes the following chapters: (1) Education & Students in Foster Care: An Overview; (2) Increasing Cross-System Awareness; (3) Building Cross-System Partnerships: Education, Child Welfare, & Courts; (4) Foster Care Overview: Understanding the Foster Care System; (5) District Foster Care Liaisons: Responsibilities & Expectations; (6) Identifying Students & Maintaining Confidentiality: Key Considerations; (7) Enrollment 101; (8) School Stability & Promoting Effective Transfers: Common Questions; (9) Education Decision Making, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), & Sharing Education Information with Child Welfare Stakeholders, (10) Additional School Provisions & Procedures; (11) The School Experience: Providing Student Support, Implementing Academic Supports and Interventions, & Promoting High School Completion; (12) Students Eligible For or Receiving Special Education Services; and (13) Transitioning Out of Foster Care & Post-Secondary Education Opportunities.  While this guide is primarily designed for education professionals, it will also be useful to caregivers, child welfare workers, child advocates, and others who work with students to help them achieve success in school and in life.  (2013)

  • The Texas Blueprint: Transforming Education Outcomes for Children & Youth in Foster Care 
    This is the Final Report of the Education Committee. It examines the well-being of children in foster care through an education lens and presents recommendations which create collaborative, collectively accountable strategies for implementation.  (March 31, 2012)
  • Report Card on the Education of Foster Children
    This policy brief from the Center for Public Policy Priorities looks at the education of foster children. Although it is focuses on Texas, it contains both policy and practice recommendations for improving educational outcomes for children in foster care. (February 2008)
  • West Virginia
    Reaching Every Child: Addressing Educational Attainment of Out-of-Home Care Children in West Virginia
    West Virginia's Out-of-Home Education Task Force was formed to develop a future oriented, problem-solving approach with key leadership from the multiple agencies and providers involved in providing residential and educational services to children in placements away from their families. The overall purpose of the Task Force was to ensure that the best educational and transitional programs and services are being deployed in an effective and efficient manner by identifying issues, analyzing them and offering possible solutions. This document, agreed to by all Task Force members, specifies the purpose and expected outcomes of its work. (July 2005)


  • Improving Educational Services for Foster Youth Living in Group Homes
    The purpose of this curriculum from the California Social Work Education Center is to provide child welfare workers with some very practical tasks and knowledge to be able to effectively assist the children on their caseload enroll in school. Although much of the focus has been on group home youth who often present the greatest challenge in terms of school enrollment and attendance, the material will be applicable to children in all types of out-of-home placement. Since the enrollment and advocacy process is often a three-way collaboration between the child welfare agency, the school district, and the foster or group home, the curriculum is broken down to illustrate the various responsibilities of these parties. (2005)


  • Clearing the Path to School Success for Students in Out-of-Home Care
    This interactive webinar provides a framework for local liaisons, educators, and child welfare advocates to ensure immediate, appropriate school enrollment for students "awaiting foster care placement" under the McKinney-Vento Act, as well as for other students in out-of-home care. The webinar's emphasis will be practical, using a case study to help schools and child welfare agencies understand their respective roles and responsibilities for the school success of students in care. (2009)
NRCPFC Information Packet Websites
  • Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues
    This page is dedicated to the topic of educational needs of vulnerable children, including those in foster care or homeless. You can search by type of document and/or by states.

  • Legal Center for Foster Care and Education
    The Legal Center FCE serves as a national technical assistance resource and information clearinghouse on legal and policy matters affecting the education of children in the foster care system. The Legal Center FCE provides expertise to states and constituents, facilitates networking to advance promising practices and reforms, and provides technical assistance and training to respond to the ever-growing demands for legal support and guidance. It sponsors conference calls that focus on important and timely topics of interest to advocates working in the field of foster care and education.

  • Center for Child Welfare and Education
    This center is a partnership between Northern Illinois University and the Department of Children & Family Services.

  • The National Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Children and Youth who are Neglected, Delinquent, or At-Risk
    The NDTAC provides technical assistance to State agencies with Title I, Part D programs and aims to improve education services for children and youth who are neglected, delinquent, or at risk.

  • California Foster Youth Education Task Force
    The California Foster Youth Education Task Force is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for foster youth in California by bringing together subject matter experts representing more than 35 organizations and agencies to engage in cross-systems collaboration. Publications are available for free download from their website.

  • BRYCS Webpage on Schools
    The Schools section of the BRYCS (Bridging Refugee Youth & Children’s Services) website offers BRYCS Publications; Information for Refugee School Impact Grantees; and, Highlighted Resources: For Schools.


Last updated 7/23/14