How Michigan Failed Foster Students

Michigan foster students were told that the hard work they completed in facilities would not count towards graduation credits.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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Michigan foster care

The amount of children entering the foster care system has been on the rise for years and is expected by many to only worsen with the recent overturning of Roe V Wade. The United State’s division for children unable to live with their families has existed for centuries, and as it grows, so have the issues within. Children in the system have been known to struggle because of a mountain of reasons, but now, Michigan foster students are at an even larger risk than ever before, as the state has failed to provide them with proper education. 

Just as New York City has ramped up support for these children, creating a specific division to support their education journey, NBC News reports about how Michigan foster students were set up to fail educational standards. All of this has postponed these students’ graduation dates by years. Even more, frustrations with the issues have increased their likelihood to drop out of school altogether.

The media outlet spoke with multiple Michigan foster students who currently, or in recent times, were living within residential facilities because of a wide array of reasons. Some of them simply had no foster family placement available, while others were there because of past mental health concerns or substance abuse issues. In the foster care buildings, each of them was given state-provided school work and classes to complete. Despite finishing the coursework, when each of them went to transfer to public schools, they were told that the work they completed would not count toward high school graduation. 

The classes these Michigan foster students took when in state care were said to be state-funded from licensed institutions. Some of the teens had taken these classes for years before being told it was to no avail. So where exactly did this slip-up occur, and how did the state let it go on, unnoticed for so long?

There are plenty of places one can look to point blame on how this catastrophic issue occurred. Part of the issue lies in the fact that state law neglects Michigan foster students and their needs. Overall, the state has overlooked auditing and addressing the facilities that house these students and ensuring that they are in compliance with state education standards.

Because of this, the state’s child welfare and education agencies have conveyed that it is impossible for them to systemically oversee the level of education, and its worthiness being administered to Michigan foster students in these types of facilities. Due to the ambiguous terms under the law verbiage, all that is required is that the state furnishes “appropriate educational services.” Therefore, each of the state’s 58 foster institutions can define this under their own terms. 

Michigan foster students

Unfortunately for Michigan foster students, attaining a high school diploma can be extremely hard for teens already struggling with a plethora of other issues on their plate. Like other underprivileged groups around the nation, children in the foster system only have about a 54% chance of earning their diploma or GED certificate. Now that more and more reports show how much states are failing these children in need, it is more clear than ever that laws and policies need to be updated to place a larger focus on these kids.