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Does Foster Care Lower School Achievement?

This policy brief by Lawrence Berger, Maria Cancian, Jennifer Noyes, and Vanessa Rios-Salas draws from the authors’ 2015 article in Pediatrics 135(1), which examines the effect of foster care placement on school achievement. The authors find that out-of-home placement (foster care) itself does not appear to be causally related to school achievement, which is a fundamentally different conclusion from past studies. Many past studies document that, on average, youth in foster care perform worse in school than other children. However, the Berger and colleagues study employed a more focused and relevant set of comparisons than most previous studies, using linked administrative data for a sample of more than 222,000 children who had either experienced foster care or were in comparison groups.


Child Development & Well-Being, Child Maltreatment & Child Welfare System, Children, Education & Training, Family & Partnering, Family Structure, K-12 Education, WI Administrative Data Core


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