The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives. ~Robert Maynard Hutchins
Education is a vital foundation for everyone and yet it can also be a great challenge for children involved in the child welfare system. National data shows that children in state care have disabilities at a greater rate than the general population
Research indicates that the future success of children in foster care is correlated to education. Children who have been removed from their home experience a great deal of transition and oftentimes school is the only stability they have. Teachers and case managers are an integral part of this stability.
Contacting a child’s teacher as soon as possible will allow the case manager and teacher to begin developing a relationship and share information which can benefit the child. Making the personal, face to face contact makes the process of developing this relationship much easier.
Case managers may have a depth of knowledge about children that can be extremely helpful in the classroom. Have they been exposed to physical or emotional trauma? Have they developed any new behaviors since child welfare became involved? Are they receiving services in-home or are they placed in out of home care? If they are in out of home care, how are they adjusting? Are they currently able to visit with the parent(s) or are visits currently not able to be conducted. All of these factors will have a tremendous impact on children’s ability to concentrate, participate, comprehend, and retain what is happening in school.
Teachers can provide valuable feedback to case managers related to the progress children are making in school. Are they exhibiting any new behaviors? Are they integrating with other classmates or isolating? Are they progressing well related to assignments, homework, tests and projects? Are they regularly attending school? Are they able to concentrate, participate, comprehend, and retain what is happening in school?
The coordination between schools and child welfare agencies can reduce delays in school enrollment and disruption of daily attendance. As studies suggest, a change or delay in school attendance can cause children to lose four to six months of progress so it is critical not only to get our children in school but to keep them attending.
The importance of connecting with teachers is to support what is best for children. This collaboration between child welfare staff and educators will lead to a greater understanding of the role each plays in the life of the child and help move toward more support for those we serve.
Everyone is responsible for the education of a child in foster care: School, case-worker, parent or foster parent or other caregiver, GAL and courts.