Written by Foster Team
“The public should not forget about the needs of foster kids in the crush of other priorities that impact more people’s lives directly. In some cases, the state is all these children have.” — Help Washington foster children succeed, Seattle Times
There are more than 9,000 children in Washington State’s foster care system. Despite the incredible support from thousands of foster parents, and state and private agencies, there are still thousands of children who don’t have the support they need to live happy, safe, and stable lives. You can help. By becoming a foster parent, you can have a huge, positive impact on the life of a foster child or youth, especially when it comes to their education.
In an op-ed for the Seattle Times, Donna Grethen writes about the challenges foster children face in education. According to a recent study:
- High school graduation rates for children in foster care are less than 50%, compared to 80% for non-foster children.
- College graduation rates are even worse. Just 3% of foster children graduate college compared to 25% of non-foster care youth.
What’s needed, Grethen notes, are more resources at the state level. Here are just a few of her suggestions for areas of increased support.
Provide Tutoring Services
Non-profits like Treehouse in Seattle, help bolster foster children graduation rates. Last year, they worked with over 1,000 children to help them graduate. But, they need more support to reach all children who need their help with graduation and other programs, like driver’s ed courses.
Foster children are at higher risk to run away from home or skip school, noncriminal acts which can land them in detention facilities if the behavior is chronic. But, legislation like Senate Bill 5290 and House Bill 1434, would direct resources toward getting those children help, rather than a spot at a detention facility.
Additional legislation can help foster children by helping those who support them. House Bill 1631 aims to provide better training and reduced workload for foster care agency caseworkers.
We Foster Support for Big Ideas
We support all of these ideas for fostering improvements to Washington State’s foster care system. In addition, here are a few more ideas that can make a positive impact in the lives of children and youth in need.
Increase the Number of Foster Parents
A larger pool of foster homes and parents would increase the likelihood that children wouldn’t have to switch homes or move out of their community.
Studies show that when a child has to change homes frequently, their education outcomes decline. A larger pool of foster homes and parents would increase the likelihood that children wouldn’t have to switch homes or move out of their community. Plus, its the goal of every agency to choose the best home for a child. With more families, it's more likely that a child finds a foster home that's perfect for them. Adding your support to the foster community as a foster parent is the single most powerful way that you can help Washington State's foster children.
More Prudent Parenting
Years ago, a foster parent’s freedom to make day-to-day decisions about the care of their foster child was restricted. The Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014 changed that, allowing foster parents to approve “normal” activities, like going over to a friend’s house. Foster parents that take advantage of this right to practice prudent parenting can foster better environments for older youth.
Provide Additional Youth Training
Older foster care youth, 14 and up, are of critical importance within the foster care system. They’re also some of the hardest to place because of a lack of training and myths about the difficulties of supporting these older youth. With increased resources and better training, more foster parents can feel comfortable about fostering a better life for foster care youth.
Foster change for Washington State’s foster care children. Start your own journey by contacting us.