Report: Foster care students in NYC plagued by chronic absenteeism, suspensions, dropouts

Chronic absenteeism. Suspensions. Dropouts.

That’s the present efficiency of students who’re in foster care in New York Metropolis, in line with one youngsters’s advocacy group that just lately reviewed public information from the NYC Dept. of Training.

The group, Advocates for Kids of New York (AFC), which launched a report final week evaluating the efficiency of students in foster care, says steps are wanted to enhance the training of those youngsters and highlights obvious points like chronic absenteeism, excessive dropout charges in addition to low efficiency ranges. Nonetheless, the group presents enhancements that may very well be made to the system if the DOE takes on their proposed options to help the town’s roughly 7,500 foster care students. 

“Although these students are in the care and custody of the city, they have some of the bleakest academic outcomes of any student group, and rarely get any attention,” mentioned Randi Levine, coverage director at AFC.

“Students in the foster system are disproportionately suspended from school, placed in special education schools, and chronically absent and have appallingly low reading proficiency and graduation rates.  For students who have to transfer schools, the outcomes are even worse.”

The report revealed that there are enormous studying disparities between students who’re in foster care and students who should not. It pointed to greater charges of chronic absenteeism, a larger variety of suspensions and dropouts, decrease math and studying ranges, and decrease commencement charges. 

“I think there’s a number of really concerning statistics,” mentioned Erika Palmer, an legal professional at AFC. “The chronic absenteeism numbers are very concerning.”

Different knowledge was equally regarding, in line with the report.

Practically 85% of students in foster care should not proficient in math, and 4 out of 5 are not studying proficiently, in line with New York State exams for third by means of eighth grades.

Foster care students who attended faculty had been additionally issued suspensions by the DOE at almost 4 occasions the speed of non-foster care students. 

The DOE issued 133 suspensions for each 1,000 students in foster care between 2016–17 and 2018–19, in line with the report. The excessive suspension charge has led to a larger variety of students dropping out and decrease commencement charges in comparison with non-foster students.

The explanations resulting in suspensions and hassle in faculty are multi-pronged and may oftentimes be tied again to points at dwelling or deteriorating psychological well being. For foster care students, these points could also be exacerbated.

“Students might act out or become aggressive because they’ve experienced bullying or they have fear that they’re going to be hurt,” Palmer mentioned. “Whether that’s experiencing abuse or neglect or their parents struggling with mental health, substance abuse issues or their parents passing away or becoming incarcerated, that is a trauma for that young person. If they continue to move homes or continue to have more losses that just compounds it.”

Solely 40.2% of foster care students who entered ninth grade in 2017 graduated in 4 years. Although these numbers have barely improved from knowledge in 2016, that’s in comparison with 81% commencement charge for non-foster students.

The issue is worse for foster care students who switch colleges, which is widespread.

For these foster students who began ninth grade in 2017 however transferred colleges two or extra occasions, solely 18.2% earned a highschool diploma in 4 years.

Palmer mentioned she’s labored with foster youth who’ve been in 10 to fifteen totally different households.

“Students in foster care continue to have graduation rates significantly below other students,” Palmer mentioned. “If you’ve changed schools twice in high school and you are in foster care, you are more likely significantly more likely to drop out than you are to actually graduate.”

The report confirmed areas in New York Metropolis the place there are massive numbers of kids positioned in foster care: Jamaica and Hollis in Queens (components of faculty districts 27, 28, and 29), East New York and Brownsville in Brooklyn (faculty districts 19 and 23), Williamsbridge, Parkchester, and Morrisania in the Bronx (components of districts 8, 9, 11, and 12) and St. George and Stapleton on Staten Island (a part of district 31).

New York Metropolis ACS, Kids in Foster Care by Borough/CD of Foster Care Placement.

Students in foster care produce other challenges, together with with transportation.

Whereas faculty transportation is an space that Palmer mentioned the DOE has improved over latest years, she mentioned there are nonetheless obvious points.

“It can take a very long time for that busing to be set up,” Palmer mentioned. “In the meantime, we need interim transportation options.”

Palmer mentioned that the training division additionally doesn’t present busing exterior of faculty hours, which prevents many students in foster care from taking part in after faculty applications.

Many of those students depend on faculty buses to get to and from faculty, since they usually attend colleges in a special borough, Palmer defined.

The AFC, primarily based on their findings, have a number of suggestions for the DOE.

These embrace: coaching faculty workers on the wants and authorized rights of foster care students and their households; guaranteeing foster care students have entry to complete psychological well being companies; enhancing communication between colleges, households, and foster care businesses; and guaranteeing door-to-door transportation for foster students. 

The DOE says that it’s taking steps to enhance the academic outcomes of those students and is constructing a foster care workforce.

“The foster care team is working collaboratively with school administrators, social workers and counselors to increase communication with both foster parents and biological parents,” mentioned Jenna Lyle, DOE spokesperson. “The team is also engaging parent coordinators and school and district leadership in a dedicated professional learning series on the educational rights of foster parents and biological parents.”

The DOE has employed eight out of the 9 foster care workforce members as of final November, Lyle mentioned. The hiring course of for the ninth workforce member begins in February.

“The issues and findings cited in this report comprise our motivation for the creation of a team wholly devoted to serving our students in foster care,” Lyle mentioned.

The DOE has a lot to do, primarily based on the report’s findings.

Over a interval of five-year interval, from the 2016-17 faculty yr to the 2020-21 faculty yr, DOE knowledge confirmed that half of all students in foster care had been chronically absent.

The report, nevertheless, cited a number of examples the place the town seems to be addressing the wants of foster care students—together with the DOE’s new foster care workforce flagging troubling attendance knowledge for a foster care company.

Palmer mentioned that there’s a renewed sense of hope that the brand new DOE workforce might determine and deal with systemic boundaries stopping foster students from ending their training efficiently. However, she mentioned, enhancements are wanted.

“This is a population of students that really needs these extra supports,” Palmer mentioned. “Now we see it in black and white, and the numbers are pretty startling. It shows there’s so much work to be done, and hopefully it can create a sense of urgency.”

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