Struggling Each Day: Foster Children and the Lack of School Support
One of the most important keys for a foster child’s success in school is the support, involvement, and encouragement from his foster parents. Indeed, according to teachers in one study, those children in foster care whose foster parents are involved in their school activities perform better in regards to academic. Unfortunately, many foster parents are not involved with their foster child’s school, for a variety of reasons.
Many foster parents are under the false belief that their foster children had any unique or distinctive problems while in school due to their being placed into the foster care system. Furthermore, one study found that many foster parents believed that their foster children were performing well in a social fashion, and that they had many friends. Along with this, foster parents in this study also were of the belief that their foster children were not embarrassed or even stigmatized by being placed into foster care. As a result, many foster parents are not overly concerned about their foster child’s school performance. Additionally, some foster parents may be satisfied with their foster child simply passing a class with a grade as a 70. Yet, children in foster care very much do suffer from various emotional traumas while in school, perform at a lower level academically than their peers, and often feel stigmatized by the label placed upon them as a foster child. To be sure, these foster parents are doing a great disservice to their foster children, as well as to the school as a whole.
Many times, foster parents do not seek out or initiate contact with teachers or school employees regarding the student. In truth, much of the conversation between the two is initiated by teachers, largely in response to the student’s behavior. Many of today’s foster parents have already had children graduate from high school, or have never had biological children of their own. As a result, a large number of these foster parents are not familiar with the importance of not only reaching out to a student’s teachers on a regular basis in order to stay up to date with grades and performance, these parents may also not be familiar with a school policies and procedures on how to do this, as well. Certainly, there are those foster parents who have numerous foster children placed in their home, along with their own biological children, and the addition of their own job, that they may simply not have enough time in their day to reach out to teachers and school employees in regards to the child’s behavior and grades.
Foster children often suffer from a number of medical conditions, requiring them to spend large amounts of time in a doctor’s office, resulting in even more absences from the classroom. As a result, foster parents may have to take time off from their own work place, attending to doctor’s appointments for their foster child. At times, some foster parents may become upset with a child’s school for not being understanding enough in cases such as these. In addition to these types of school absences, there are those absences related to school transfers, as we have noted earlier. Some foster parents may wait until the beginning of a new school year, under the belief that they do not wish to disrupt both the school and the child’s education, resulting in the child falling even further behind.
As we have clearly seen, there are many factors prohibiting a foster child from succeeding in school. Whether it is the emotional traumas the child may be struggling with, the multiple displacements from home to home and school to school, or the lack of understanding from case workers, school employees, and foster parents, children in foster care have numerous obstacles preventing them from performing well. In order for our children to not only succeed, but to survive in school, it is vital that foster parents understand these obstacles, and take the lead for the benefit of these troubled children.
Dr. John DeGarmo has been a foster parent for 13 years, now, and he and his wife have had over 45 children come through their home. He is a speaker and trainer on many topics about the foster care system, and travels around the nation delivering passionate, dynamic, energetic, and informative presentations. Dr. DeGarmo is the author of several foster care books, including the brand new book Love and Mayhem: One Big Family’s Uplifting Story of Fostering and Adoption. Dr. DeGarmo is the host of the weekly radio program Foster Talk with Dr. John, He can be contacted at drjohndegarmo@gmail, through his Facebook page, Dr. John DeGarmo, or at his website, http://drjohndegarmofostercare.weebly.com.