Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 41-53

First online:

What Happens to Foster Kids: Educational Experiences of a Random Sample of Foster Care Youth and a Matched Group of Non-Foster Care Youth

  • Wendy Whiting BlomeAffiliated withNational Center for Excellence in Child Welfare, Child Welfare League of America

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Older youth often “age out” of foster care when they reach 18 or 21. Then what happens to them? How do their educational experiences during and after high school compare with children raised in intact families? This study used existing longitudinal data from 1980 through 1986 to investigate the high school and post high school experiences of a group of foster care youth and a matched group of youth living with at least one parent. The results were unequivocal: the foster youth dropped out of high school at a much higher rate and were significantly less likely to have completed a GED. The foster care high school graduates received significantly less financial assistance for education from their parents or guardians. Foster youth reported more discipline problems in school and experienced more educational disruption due to changing schools. They were significantly less likely to be in a college preparatory high school track. The adults in the lives of the foster care youth were less likely to monitor homework. These findings have important implications for child welfare policy and practice.