The Maryland Public Policy Institute
GERMANTOWN, MD, November 30, 2006- Former foster children and foster parents in Maryland highlighted the lack of a quality education as a common problem faced in the foster care system during an August focus group, the results of which were published today by the Maryland Public Policy Institute.
“The real-life experiences of those in the foster care system emphasize the need to provide better opportunities for children in foster care,” said Christopher Summers, president of MPPI.“Foster children are among the most at-risk groups in our community.Providing these children with a quality education is a key to giving them the opportunity to succeed in life.”
The focus groups identified common challenges foster children face, such as instability or constant movement, the stigma of being a foster child, and the lack of a quality educational experience. Next the group discussed strategies to improve educational opportunities, including protecting students’ privacy, helping to address their unique educational and emotional needs, facilitating a smooth school transfer and providing them with quality instruction that boosts their desire to succeed.They also identified access to tutoring, sensitive and qualified teachers, and strong parental advocates as factors that can play a positive role.
Unaided, foster parents stated a belief that school vouchers or tuition scholarships to attend private school could help ensure that a foster child receives a quality education.When both groups were later asked about school vouchers, the parents and foster children alike expressed great interest in the opportunity to attend a school of choice.They did point out, however, that to be successful a voucher would need to be supplemented with assistance in paying transportation and other education expenses.
In 2005 the Maryland Public Policy Institute designed the first in the nation education opportunity scholarship for children in foster care, and in 2006 was signed into law in Arizona.
The Maryland Public Policy Institute is a 501 (C) (3) nonpartisan public policy research and educational organization that focuses on Maryland public policy issues.