Juvenile Law Center

Access to Education|Child Welfare and Foster Care|Community and School Reentry|Juvenile and Criminal Justice

Access to Education

Despite dreams of college, only about half of youth in the child welfare system finish high school on time, and fewer than 10% graduate from college.1 Children typically enter the system with numerous educational deficits as a result of traumatic childhood experiences.2 These educational challenges are often worsened by frequent school changes caused by jumping from placement to placement while in care.3 Juvenile Law Center works to solve the education crisis faced by foster youth by advancing laws and policies that:

  • Allow foster youth to stay in the same school, even if their placement changes; 
  • Ease the school transition for youth who do change schools by facilitating records and credits transfer, prompt re-enrollment, and keeping them on-track to graduate;
  • Ensure youth in residential facilities receive required education services, ideally in the local public school or their school of origin;
  • Ensure foster youth receive adequate special education services when needed and have access to other supports such as remedial services, credit recovery programs (link to past blog on credit transfer if we have one, and if not I should write one), and extracurricular activities;
  • Ensure youth in care have a consistent, caring adult involved in their education; and
  • Provide older youth with opportunities to pursue higher education.

In collaboration with partner organizations, Juvenile Law Center engages in vigorous advocacy at the federal, state, and local levels. With our partners, we successfully advocated for school stability protections for youth in care in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, signed into law in December, 2015. Juvenile Law Center has also worked to support federal legislation that would make it easier for current and former foster youth to attend college. We are also seeking legislation in Pennsylvania that would permit students in foster care to remain in the same school and graduate on time, even if their foster care or educational placements change.

We offer technical assistance and trainings for stakeholders in the courts, child welfare, and education systems, with an emphasis on the need for collaboration between all three. With our partners, the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law and Education Law Center-PA, we established the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education, which provides training and technical assistance nationwide and serves as a central clearinghouse for information on foster care and education. The Legal Center offers a searchable database, numerous factsheets, issue briefs and tools. Juvenile Law Center is also a founding member of the National Working Group on Foster Care and Education.


More resources:


1 Fostering Success in Education: National Factsheet on the Educational Outcomes of Children in Foster Care 6 & n.113-120 (2014), http://fostercareandeducation.org/DesktopModules/Bring2mind/DMX/Download.aspx?EntryId=1937&Command=Core_Download&method=inline&PortalId=0&TabId=12.
2 David Osher, Simon Gonsoulin & Stephanie Lampron, Preface to Peter Leone & Lois Weinberg, Addressing the Unmet Educational Needs of Children and Youth in the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems 1-2 (May 2010) available at http://cjjr.georgetown.edu/pdfs/ed/edpaper2012.pdf.
3 Fostering Success in Education: National Factsheet on the Educational Outcomes of Children in Foster Care 3 & n.14-40 (2014), http://fostercareandeducation.org/DesktopModules/Bring2mind/DMX/Download.aspx?EntryId=1937&Command= Core_Download&method=inline&PortalId=0&TabId=12.


Last updated: 3/7/2016

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