Most foster youth experience disruptions to their education. Coming into foster care often means changing schools. Youth are routinely out of school for weeks at a time when they change schools, sometimes their credits are not transferred to the new school, and coming to a new school is a major adjustment- socially and academically. Additionally, when youth enter foster care or move to a new foster home, it is a major life change, which can make it hard to focus on anything but the worry and pain they are feeling at that time. Overwhelmed by these feelings, youth are unable to focus in school. Compounding this, there is evidence foster youth who attend group homes are given psychotropic medication at disproportionately high rates (Zetlin et al., 2006). There is also evidence of historical discrimination: foster youth with grades similar to their peers not being placed in college prep courses, and schools denying foster youth enrollment (Pecora et al., 2006). While 80% of foster youth say they want to attend college, less than 10% earn a college degree of any kind (Harris et al., 2009). The number of foster youth graduating from college remains low, even when compared with other disadvantaged groups (Martin and Jackson, 2002).
There is Hope!
Even though youth experience problems with their schooling because of foster care, several hundred current and former foster youth attend Butte College! In California and the United States, there are thousands more foster youth at Community Colleges and Universities. Inspiring Scholars is designed to help current and former foster youth get into college, stay in college, and reach their academic goals- be that an associate's degree or transfer to another college or university.