First Presenter's Institution

McKendree University

Second Presenter's Institution

NA

Third Presenter's Institution

NA

Fourth Presenter's Institution

NA

Fifth Presenter's Institution

NA

Location

Percival

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Strand #2

Social & Emotional Skills

Relevance

This proposal is directly related to both Strand I (Head) and Strand II (Heart) as the presentation addresses both academic and social/emotional barriers specific to foster youth.

Brief Program Description

Due to increased tendency of children in foster care placements to perform poorly in school and to become involved with the juvenile justice system, there is a dire need for school districts to improve support systems for this vulnerable student group. This presentation may be of most interest to conference attendees as it explores the specific barriers which may hinder educational success for youth in foster care.

Summary

This body of knowledge intends to help promote the need to recognize the prevalence and societal content of foster care and enable educators to better assist the educational functioning of this at-risk population. Despite the growing familiarization of children in foster care, this minority comprises a population that is overlooked, and their challenges are frequently minimized (Huff & Christie, 2015). By design, the educational school system does not meet the needs of foster children. Due to court appearances, therapy sessions, legally mandated doctor visits, and placement transfers, foster children have inconsistent academic experiences and are not appropriately supported within school systems (Finkelstein, Wamsley, and Miranda, 2002). Compared to the 70% of non-dependent youth who graduate high school, only about half of foster youth students finish their high school degree by age 18 and GED achievements range from 5-29% (Wolanin, 2005). Overall, most foster children experience less favorable life outcomes than do non-foster children (Kretchmar et al., 2005; Weinberg, Zetlin, & Shea, 2009) and studies show education is the main culprit for such difficult transitions to adulthood (Lips, 2007).

Inept communication, poor use of cross-disciplinary language, and lack of professional practices are significant barriers that obstruct the collaboration among child welfare systems and the school system. To better understand such a critical issue, this presentation addresses the overlooked tribulations of students in foster care and analyzes how these youth are affected by attachment issues. The research-based material also provides a synthesis of recommendations for educational practices with potential to empower foster youth students and other stakeholders to improve the learning and academic success of this vulnerable population.

Evidence

The information in this presentation is derived from research done by the author as part of her dissertation. Several studies have been completed by a variety of scholars seeking to explain barriers and recommendations to educational success for youth in foster care. This compilation of peer-reviewed literature utilizes recommended forms of quantitative and qualitative assessment procedures in the pursuit of collecting data that is representative of the trends and themes experienced by foster youth students.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Mrs. Amie Stearns is an Educator at the Illinois Youth Center in Harrisburg, IL, serving justice involved males ages 13-21. She is a doctoral candidate in Curriculum Design & Instruction at McKendree University in Lebanon, IL. Her dissertation focuses on improving educational outcomes for foster youth. She received her B.S. in Education from Murray State University in Murray, KY, and both her M.Ed. in Administration and Ed.S. in Curriculum & Instruction at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN. Prior to teaching students at the juvenile justice youth residential facility, Mrs. Stearns taught middle school English Language Arts in Franklin, TN, and various levels of high school English in Marion, IL. Mrs. Stearns is devoted in advocating for those in need, and helps speak up for their rights by serving as a trained CASA volunteer and (recent) foster parent.

Keyword Descriptors

Foster Care, Children Services, Education, At-Risk Youth, Academic Achievement

Presentation Year

2018

Start Date

3-5-2018 3:00 PM

End Date

3-5-2018 4:15 PM

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Mar 5th, 3:00 PM Mar 5th, 4:15 PM

Changing the Music: Understanding Educational Obstacles for Youth in Foster Care

Percival

Due to increased tendency of children in foster care placements to perform poorly in school and to become involved with the juvenile justice system, there is a dire need for school districts to improve support systems for this vulnerable student group. This presentation may be of most interest to conference attendees as it explores the specific barriers which may hinder educational success for youth in foster care.