Thesis

Examining educational achievement of children in foster care: perceptions of common challenges, supportive strategies, identifying skill sets, and literacy development

Previous studies on children in foster care have focused on the deficits that result from participating in the foster care system, such as the prevalence of developmental delays, instances of abuse, and difficulties that arise in the schooling systems. This study examines children in foster care from a perspective that looks for skills they have, and seeks strategies that can better support children in foster care in the acquisition of early literacy skills. Data was gathered using qualitative interviews of teachers, social workers, foster parents, a school psychologist, and a Foster Care Liaison. The voices of the participants were essential in uncovering qualities that children in foster care possess, a perspective that is often left out in prior quantitative research.
 Common challenges facing children in foster care that has been documented in previous research is confirmed in this study. This includes frequent moving that causes gaps in learning, a lack of educational accountability, discussion of confidentiality as a barrier to providing academic supports, and the prevalence of emotional trauma. This study found that the biological household of children in foster care may be impoverished, and does not reflect values that prepare children for success in early literacy experiences at school. Strategies recommended to fill in the learning gaps included implementing a clear and consistent routine, holding high educational expectations, exposing children in foster care to literacy experiences with literature, and the use of assessment and tutoring.
 This study recommends that educational law protecting children in foster care be expanded to include platforms for participants to communicate and share resources, such as the use of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The results indicate the use of the Foster Care Liaison should be expanded to better meet the needs of children in foster care. Traditional teaching methods were not found to be effective for use with children in foster care, and this study recommends exploring more student-centered approaches to literacy instruction. The expansion of resources and change in teaching methods calls for changes in district and public policy, as well as increased funding.

Previous studies on children in foster care have focused on the deficits that result from participating in the foster care system, such as the prevalence of developmental delays, instances of abuse, and difficulties that arise in the schooling systems. This study examines children in foster care from a perspective that looks for skills they have, and seeks strategies that can better support children in foster care in the acquisition of early literacy skills. Data was gathered using qualitative interviews of teachers, social workers, foster parents, a school psychologist, and a Foster Care Liaison. The voices of the participants were essential in uncovering qualities that children in foster care possess, a perspective that is often left out in prior quantitative research. Common challenges facing children in foster care that has been documented in previous research is confirmed in this study. This includes frequent moving that causes gaps in learning, a lack of educational accountability, discussion of confidentiality as a barrier to providing academic supports, and the prevalence of emotional trauma. This study found that the biological household of children in foster care may be impoverished, and does not reflect values that prepare children for success in early literacy experiences at school. Strategies recommended to fill in the learning gaps included implementing a clear and consistent routine, holding high educational expectations, exposing children in foster care to literacy experiences with literature, and the use of assessment and tutoring. This study recommends that educational law protecting children in foster care be expanded to include platforms for participants to communicate and share resources, such as the use of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The results indicate the use of the Foster Care Liaison should be expanded to better meet the needs of children in foster care. Traditional teaching methods were not found to be effective for use with children in foster care, and this study recommends exploring more student-centered approaches to literacy instruction. The expansion of resources and change in teaching methods calls for changes in district and public policy, as well as increased funding.

Relationships

Items