CRUE Discussion Guide: Students Aging Out of Foster Care

Children in foster care face many obstacles to success in both their academic and personal lives. The majority of students in foster care change schools at least seven times due to the instability of their living situations. The numbers vary, but some studies show that youth in foster care are over twice as likely to be enrolled in special education and to drop out of high school as their peers.

Typically, youth aging out of foster care have few resources to help them with the transition to adulthood and pursuing higher education and/or employment. Only 13% of youth who have been in foster care go on to attend college or vocational school. Many youth in foster care end up homeless when they age out of the system and they tend to have high rates of drug and alcohol abuse as well as problems with the legal system. Still, many of these youth are incredibly resilient and the support of educators can go a long way in aiding them in this difficult process.

Just paying attention to foster youth in your school and making sure their needs are getting met is important. Additionally, Colorado has resources and services specifically for foster youth aging out of the system. The Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 provides funding for programs that serve former foster youth transitioning into adulthood. Youth in Colorado who age out of foster care are eligible for a number of services and Education and Training Vouchers through the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program. The Fostering Success program at Colorado State University and The Guardian Scholars Program at CU Boulder and Mesa State College are designed to help students who have been in foster care get the support they need to graduate from college. Additionally, The Daniels Fund offers a scholarship for former foster youth.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does your school or district do to make sure students in foster care are getting appropriate services and support from educators? How can these services be improved?
  2. Do educators at your school regularly check-in with students in foster care to make sure they are safe and their needs are being met?
  3. Think about the students you work with who are in foster care. What are their strengths? How can these strengths be used to help them succeed in school?

Additional Resources:

What Teachers and Educators Can Do to Help Youth in Foster Care

Attaining Educational Equity for Students in Foster Care: Classroom Leadership

Foster Care Youth and Higher Education Opportunities-The Denver Scholarship Fund

Supporting Youth in Foster Care-Child Welfare


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