We need to support foster youth in higher ed

Last month was National Foster Care Month, a time to highlight the role each of us can play in enhancing the lives of children and youth in foster care. It’s a sobering fact to think that 400,000 children and youth are in foster care at any given time; in 2015, more than 670,000 children spent time in U.S. foster care.

And the numbers are even more stark when it comes to education. Foster kids are two times as likely to be absent from school than other children. Each time a child changes schools, it can result in a loss of four to six months of academic progress. Add to that the fact that 34 percent of 17- to 18-year-olds in foster care have experienced five-plus school changes, and they’ve lost more than a year-and-a-half of progress during their educational careers. High school dropout rates are three times higher for foster youth than for other low-income children.

These early experiences have devastating ripple effects once foster youth leave the K-12 system: Nationwide, less than 3 percent of foster youth graduate from a four-year college by age 26, compared to 45 percent of the general population nationally. The more than 20,000 individuals each year who age out of foster care are less likely than youth in the general population to graduate from high school and are less likely to attend or graduate college.…Read More