Foster children often bounce from school to school, suffer chronic absenteeism, experience disciplinary problems, and drop out more frequently than their peers. Yet poor communication between state child welfare administrators and local schools and conflicting regulations create significant hurdles and educational delays for abused and neglected children as they are moved from foster home to foster home, according to a new state auditor’s report.
“These children tend to bounce around from one community to another and there is no good way to track their educational history, let alone their personal history, so when they arrive at a local school district, the district is starting from scratch,” said Tom Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents.
“Due to placement disruptions and a high rate of specialized educational needs, children in foster care face immense challenges in the classroom. The Commonwealth must do everything it can to help these students succeed. As state lawmakers work to revamp the Commonwealth’s education funding formula, I encourage them to use this report as a resource and take action on its recommendations, to ensure children in our state’s foster care system can meet their full academic potential.” -Mary Bourque, Superintendent of Chelsea Public Schools
“Teachers and administrators throughout the Commonwealth are committed to meeting the academic needs of students in foster care. Too often, though, their efforts are hindered by an inadequate system of competing laws, regulations, and funding mechanisms. This report offers concrete steps the Commonwealth can take to ensure these students’ academic needs remain front-and-center. I look forward to working with Auditor Bump, lawmakers, and our state’s educational leaders to make these recommendations a reality.” -Thomas Scott, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents
Local school districts also are struggling to transport foster children to and from school, and to pay those costs, as foster children often are enrolled in one school district but live in another, the report said. Federal law requires that changes in school placements for students in foster care be minimized to lessen their trauma, and that unless it’s determined to be in their best interest, children should remain in the school district they were in prior to foster care.
To meet those transportation needs, schools reported spending a total of $3.2 million just last year, the report said.
To address the financial concerns, Bump called on the state to cover the full cost of transportation for foster children. This is a position that M.A.S.S. supports and agrees with and is critical to the education of these children.
Read the Boston Globe Article HERE
Read the Full Auditor’s Report HERE
One Page Summary of Auditor’s Report HERE