What is VT-FUTRES?
is a Vermont-based project with a mission to improve educational stability and academic outcomes of middle and high school youth in foster care.
Goal 1: Refine and implement a Toolkit called Rock the GRADES to provide resources for DCF staff and others and lay the foundation for sustainable workforce development. The toolkit is based on the evidence-informed strategies developed by Joan Rock a Vermont child welfare resource coordinator (RC) and a team of representatives from education, courts, and child welfare in 2006.
Goal 2:Build local multi-disciplinary capacity to improve educational stability and achievement for middle and high school youth in foster care. Train DCF staff, community partners and educators on the “Endless Dreams” curriculum.
Goal 3:Facilitate the collection and use of data on educational stability and outcomes of youth in foster care. VT-FUTRES will leverage efforts from initiatives in child welfare, education, and courts to build infrastructure capacity for data collection and dissemination.
Goal 4:Engage youth in creatively sharing their experiences to positively influence infrastructure development around educational stability.
VT-FUTRES is a collaboration between the UVM’s Center on Disability & Community Inclusion, Department of Social Work, Vermont Agency of Education, Justice for Children’s Task Force of the Vermont Family Court, Vermont Department for Children and Families, and children and families involved with DCF.
What is educational stability?
For all children, but particularly for those in foster care, a steady and coordinated educational environment is a necessary element of academic success and overall well-being. Educational Stability supports young people in foster care by ensuring that, when feasible, they remain in their school of origin upon coming into care. Educational Stability can also refer to the seamless transition between schools when it is determined to be in the student’s best interest to switch academic settings.
The Law: In October of 2008, The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (P.L. 110-351) was passed. This law, known as Fostering Connections, affords significant federal improvements to foster care and includes key education provisions to ensure those in foster care maintain a stable education.
Why is staying in the same school important?
Every time a child changes schools they lose approximately six months of educational progress, resulting in a lack of basic academic skills and major disadvantages when transitioning to adulthood. Providing a consistent school experience not only offers children a road map for future success, it can also serve as a positive counterweight to abuse, neglect, separation, and instability. A change in home placement frequently results in a change in school placement, which sets students back both academically and socially as they deal with record transfer issues, different curricula and new teachers and friends. Many of these youth fall behind and stay behind throughout their educational careers, leading to high drop-out rates and only a relatively few young people graduating from college.
Which is the greater priority - placing a child with kin or ensuring that they remain in their original school?
The Juvenile Proceedings Act instructs the child welfare system to give precedence to identifying family and facilitating a child’s placement with appropriate kin.
In addition to this being the law, research shows us that overall outcomes for children are better when they are placed with family.
If, while living with family, it is also possible for the child to remain in their original school, that is an important, but secondary, priority.
Using the Educational Best Interest Determination will assist staff in making these very complex placement decisions.
Is foster family recruitment still important given the practice emphasis on both reunification and on placing children with relatives?
Reunifying children in care with their families can take time. A strong, ongoing recruitment system can make it possible for children to remain in their same school community while
reunification efforts or family finding are underway.
Consistent local foster family recruitment also makes it more likely that an area family will be identified, should a child have to be placed with a family they don’t know.