Kids who’ve spent time in foster care often have a hard time succeeding in school, especially those who bounce in and out of state care.
To put Nebraska’s foster kids on a path toward academic success, the Academy for Child and Family Well Being is partnering with the state’s largest foster care agency. Together, they are developing an intervention program supporting middle and high school students who leave foster care for homes with family, adopters or other guardians.
“The primary goal is centered on educational support. Existing supports don’t target this area. We hope to address this need to promote academic success and prevent reentry,” said Jacqueline Huscroft-D’Angelo, research associate professor in special education and communication disorders. “The more placement changes [that] students experience, the more likely they will fall behind academically.”
Nebraska has more than 3,500 children in foster care, of whom about 85% leave state care for a permanent home. A quarter of the children who leave foster care return.
Huscroft-D’Angelo co-leads the intervention program with the academy’s co-director Alexandra Trout, research professor in special education and communication disorders.
“We want to improve the collaboration between community agencies and schools, working together to support these students,”Jacqueline Huscroft-D’Angelo
“We want to improve the collaboration between community agencies and schools, working together to support these students,”
The program, Fostering Educational Success: Reconnecting Families, Empowering Youth, takes advantage of the academy’s extensive experience developing programs that keep students engaged in school.
It’s modeled on a successful program the academy developed in collaboration with Boys Town to support kids leaving residential care.
The university’s academy is working with foster care agency KVC Nebraska to develop and refine program components. KVC will deliver program services.
“We want to improve the collaboration between community agencies and schools, working together to support these students,” Huscroft-D’Angelo said.
The program initially targets young people ages 12 to 18 within 60 miles of Lincoln and Omaha but will eventually expand statewide.
The academy will study the five-year project’s results through a randomized controlled trial and follow-up studies. The long-term goal is to provide a successful model to support the educational needs of the nation’s nearly half-million foster kids, Huscroft-D’Angelo said.
A nearly $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Education Innovation and Research Program funds this project.
Nebraska news release: Nebraska researchers aim to improve school engagement for students transitioning from foster care
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