Reviewing “The Fosters” – Educational Stability in Foster Care

The Fosters 2On The Fosters this week, there were several intriguing plotlines that arose throughout the episode. We are going to narrow it down a bit and focus on Jude and the big test he had to take to remain enrolled at Anchor Beach.

At the beginning of this week’s episode, Lena was informed that Jude would be required to score at least a 65% on an entrance exam if he wanted to continue attending the same school as his sister. When Lena approached Jude to help him study for the exam, we learned that one of the reasons why Jude was so behind in school was that he had been in seven different schools over the course of the last four years. Apparently, as Jude journeyed from placement to placement through the foster care system, he was put in a new school at every stop along the way.

Unfortunately, Jude’s story is not that uncommon for many children in foster care. The federal government has in recent years tried to remedy the inherent educational instability that many foster children face.

As we discussed last week, in 2008, Congress passed, and President George W. Bush signed the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (“Fostering Connections Act”) into federal law. Included in the Fostering Connections Act are “Educational Stability” provisions (42 U.S.C. 675(1)(G)) which require a child’s written case plan take into account the appropriateness of their educational setting and assure the child can remain at a school (or move to another school) depending on what is in his or her best interests.

Furthermore, in 2012, Congress also passed the Uninterrupted Scholars Act, which makes it less burdensome for a school to release a child’s educational records to the child welfare agencies in an effort to help placement agencies better coordinate a child’s education.

As Nebraska works to reform and improve our child welfare system, it will be especially important to ensure that all youth who enter the foster system receive a quality and stable education. We know that several groups in Nebraska are already looking at this issue, and we think that is great! Improving educational stability will hopefully lead to better outcomes for older youth, a better outcome for all Nebraskans, and could have prevented some of the issues that Jude had to go through.

Be sure to keep checking our blog regularly for more reviews of The Fosters and discussion of the real-life issues the show raises.

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