Extended Foster Care Results in More Educated Foster Youth
A 2017 research study looked at educational outcomes for foster youth in extended foster care. Currently 22 states have some form of extended foster care for foster youth up to the age of 21. In comparing educational outcomes for youth who leave care at 18 and those remain in care the researchers determined that extended foster care has a dramatic impact on educational attainment for foster youth.
The research found that for every additional year of foster care past age 18 there was a 46% increase that the youth would progress to the next level of education. For example, if a youth had a high school diploma that they would attend college, and if they had not graduated from high school that they would do so or earn a GED. Males in foster care did not fare as well as females in educational attainment, which is in line with the general population, but child welfare should still address this disparity. Surprisingly and positively, African Americans and White youth had the same level of educational attainment the longer they stay in extended foster care.
Working while in foster care before age 18 was associated with higher levels of education for foster youth in their mid-twenties and is associated with employment and higher earnings later in life. Unfortunately, foster youth tend to have low levels of employment before age 18. In addition, pregnancy and parenting were correlated with low levels of educational attainment in foster youth, which argues for education and access to reproductive health care.