Structuring Policies and Practices to Support Educational Resilience of Foster Youth

According to researchers from the Child and Family Research Institute at the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work, foster youth are more likely to have poor educational outcomes than their peers outside of the system. Monica Faulkner, PhD, LMSW; Beth Gerlach, PhD, LCSW; and Catheric LaBrenz completed a recent white paper, entitled “Structuring policies and practices to support education resilience of foster youth,” which draws on resilience theory to discuss potential solutions.

This report is a part of Texas-based social services agency Upbring’s white papers series, which calls for researchers in Texas and nationwide to share best practices.

The paper begins with a section explaining the reasons for this educational achievement gap, highlighting personal factors (i.e. trauma and mental/emotional well-being), familial factors (i.e. trends of instability and maladaptive relationships), school factors (i.e. frequent movement between schools and districts) and community factors (i.e. lack of coordination and misunderstandings between agencies and schools).

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 5.16.22 PMThe researchers examine the reasons why some youth develop resilience, defined as “the ability to bounce back from adversity, frustration and misfortune,” in the face of these challenges and some do not. These models of resilience “focus on increasing protective factors and decreasing risk factors, emphasizing positive outcomes and strengths of children, families, and communities.”

The subsequent analysis of educational resilience outlines particular state-enacted practices and policies that have successfully promoted resilience, including examples in Massachusetts, California and Texas. Finally, the report discusses the potential system-wide implications of this research, recommending particular areas for future research on resilience on national and state levels.

For more information or to read the white paper in its entirety,  please click here.

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Lisa Martine Jenkins
About Lisa Martine Jenkins 35 Articles
Lisa is the marketing coordinator for The Chronicle of Social Change and a recent graduate of University of California-Berkeley. Find her at or on Twitter @lisa_m_jenkins.