NYC Schools Create Division To Aid Foster Students

New York City has created a special division focusing on the well being and success of foster care students in school.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

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foster care students

Thousands of children in the foster care system will now receive more support from the New York City Schools. The city’s Department of Education is creating a division expressly focused on helping foster care students improve their outcomes. This is after families, advocates, and lawmakers have demanded changes.

Foster care students are more likely to suffer from low achievement rates, be held back a grade, and drop out of school. This is likely due to the fact that they are also more likely to experience more home changes as they are moved from school to school. There are some 400,000 children in the foster care system and about 270,000 are school age. 

For some time now advocates looking to aid foster care students have asked for this form of added support in order to address the issues that foster care students face and provide them with solutions that cater to their specific needs. The prior administration had promised to take action, but nothing was ever finalized. Then on Friday, July 8th, more than 30 advocacy groups joined forces and sent a letter to current New York City Mayor, Eric Adams and his chancellor of the schools, David Banks.  

The letter reminded these leaders of the city’s promise. It pointed out that foster care students often have racial and economic disparities as well as transportation issues that lead to chronic absenteeism. A focus on proper transportation was emphasized throughout the letter because a lack of proper bussing to and from school often leads to missed classes and contributes to issues with completing school work. 

The letter scathingly stated, “It has become increasingly clear over the years that students in foster care will not get the attention and support they require until the DOE staffs a foster care team devoted exclusively to their needs.” There are 7,500 foster care students attending New York City Schools, yet only 45% of those eligible graduated. This is due in part to the fact that foster care students miss the equivalent of one-and-a-half months of school each year, and as they get older attendance rates remain closer to 50%. 

Because of the “abysmal outcomes,” and the urgency of the advocacy groups, Mayor Eric Adams has begun to form the team that will head the schools’ new foster care division. The city’s Department of Education spokeswoman, Suzan Sumer noted that the hiring process for these positions has already begun, and that there will be nine new positions created for the 2022-2023 school year. Three offers to fill those positions have already been sent out. 

foster care students

While it has taken the state some time to finally deliver the added support for foster care students, the next school year holds much promise. With a new division staffed to provide these children with the care they need, changes are expected to be made. Transportation is still a main concern for foster families and the schools that serve them, and how this issue will be addressed has not been fully detailed yet. Even so, advocates have remained diligent and will not let up until these students’ needs are finally met.