When a child is placed in a foster home, the resulting move can also mean living in a new school district. Research has shown that unplanned school changes can lead to worse educational outcomes, such as lower test scores and graduation rates. A 2015 federal mandate, the Every Student Succeeds Act, requires that children in child welfare placements remain in their home school – unless it is determined not to be in the student’s best interest – so as to maximize a student’s stability and educational outcomes.
In response, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services took advantage of a wealth of data and strong school partnerships to develop a collaborative, child-centered process that helps children in child welfare placements maintain school stability whenever possible. The result was hundreds of students continuing to attend their home school in the 2016-17 school year.
Read the full report to learn about how DHS responded, challenges we faced, and results from the first year of implementation.