KARA advocates for the people, policies and programs.
that improve the lives of abused and neglected children.
COVID is Hammering Children’s Mental Health
672,000 children were in foster care in 2019. About 1/3rd of them were children of color (Foster care, 2021)..Because these children move between multiple homes and multiple schools each year, many of them will not receive a traditional education.
Foster children generally move four times in their first year and up to fifteen times for children that grow up in foster care (Kaufman, 2020).
Many schools automatically dump foster kids into special education. Lack of school funding in many schools means minimal resources are available to work with them.
These children have experienced the trauma of extended exposure to violence and deprivation in their birth homes (it’s why the court removed them from their home).
Most foster children also suffer the trauma of being removed from the only home they have ever known to live with people they have never seen before. Very few children have the inherent coping skills to manage this shock.
Traumatized children suffer ADD/ADHD, depression, anxiety, and behavior problems at a much higher rate than their peers (Turney & Wildeman, 2016).
It is not genetic predisposition that causes foster care children to misbehave, underperform and achieve less than other students – it’s the multiple traumas they experience in their birth home and the traumas and counter-productive institutional policies they live with after being removed.
Behavior problems brought to school by foster children can make teaching State Ward children very difficult – especially for teachers without ACEs training (Adverse Childhood Experiences).
America has long failed to understand and address the underlying issues that drive behaviors of traumatized children. Many end up suspended, expelled or in juvenile justice. Teen and preteen pregnancies are significantly more common among them than with their peers also.
Teachers don’t often know that their underperforming and badly behaving students are in foster care.
If they did, they might reach for help for the child sooner. Even when help arrives, it’s too little and too late to make a difference most of the time.
In the case of special education, foster parents aren’t given legal rights to inquire or know if the child is receiving special accommodations at school due to the IDEA.
IDEA is “the federal (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ). It gives biological and adoptive parents certain rights, starting with the right to participate in their child’s special education.
The battle between parental rights and child rights in America today complicates the team-work of service providers, parents and foster parents in helping their State Ward children avoid failure and achieve success in school.
Under current law, biological parents are presumed to be the primary decision makers for their child” (Kaufman, 2020). If the biological parents or adoptive parents were to lose parental rights through court order, then IDEA allows foster parents to serve as decision makers for the child.
The mental health issues of foster children are usually ‘diagnosed’ too late and the resources they need aren’t available.
Nationally, 1/3 of foster children are forced onto psychotropic medications like Prozac. These drugs are the cheaper alternative to adequate trauma-based therapy.
Very few at risk children receive the help they need to deal with their traumas.
Parent Center hub is a website that has resources available for foster parents with children in special education.
There is information on parent training centers and support groups to help parents feel supported and more prepared to help their child with academic difficulties.
A quick Google search does bring up a couple such websites and online resources, but these resources aren’t nearly enough for foster parents to feel less overwhelmed by their child’s needs.
Even though there are resources available for special education foster children to some extent, I still believe the most beneficial way to ensure these students success both academically and socially, is to try and find ways to adjust them to normal curriculum.
There has to be a better way in accommodating foster children into normal school curriculum instead of putting so many of them in special education.
Foster children are already alienated from their peers, family and community. More alienation makes life harder.
America is the only nation in the world to not ratify the United Nation’s Rights of the Child Treaty of the 1980’s. If children had more rights – life would be better for them.
Next Week; Unprepared Foster Parents
This article submitted by KARA volunteer Rida Zaidi.
“Foster Care.” Children’s Rights, 26 Feb. 2021, www.childrensrights.org/newsroom/fact-sheets/foster-care/#:~:text=On%20any%20given%20day%2C%20there,for%20five%20or%20more%20years.
Kaufman, Trynia. “Foster Care, Special Education, and Learning and Thinking Differences: What You Need to Know.” Understood, Understood, 22 Oct. 2020, www.understood.org/en/school-learning/your-childs-rights/basics-about-childs-rights/foster-care-special-education-and-learning-and-thinking-differences-what-you-need-to-know.
Turney, Kristin, and Christopher Wildeman. “Mental and Physical Health of Children in Foster Care.” American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics, 1 Nov. 2016, pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/5/e20161118#:~:text=These%20analyses%20show%20that%20children,and%20behavioral%20or%20conduct%20problems