Even the most prepared and well-intentioned caregiver may not be able to prevent a child from struggling in school. All available research demonstrates that kids in foster care struggle tremendously compared to their non-foster care peers. Children in foster care often have histories of behavioral challenges, educational neglect, disabilities, and other barriers that are heightened by the trauma of being removed from their parents. In many instances, academic struggles are not new to the child and have followed them from their previous placements. In fact, the school struggles can be a source of tension in a foster home that can lead to placement failure. Identifying and responding early to a child's struggles at school (behavioral, social or academic) can not only help the child get the support they need to excel in school but it can also prevent a child from failing in a placement.
When you see signs of trouble:
- Request a meeting (sometimes called an SST - see below)
- Understand the child's perspective prior to the meeting
- Get the teacher's perspective on the child's struggles
- With the school create an intervention plan
- Schedule a follow-up meeting to review effectiveness of interventions
What is a Student Success Team (SST) meeting?
If your child's difficulty with school seems to be more comprehensive than one subject or class, ask the teacher or counselor to organize an SST meeting. Teachers, administrators, social workers, educational liaisons, caretakers and the child should be invited to participate. During the meeting, academics, behavior, attendance, work ethic, and skills will be discussed. A specific academic plan, along with the individual responsibilities and timelines, should be developed and put in writing to help the child improve. A follow-up meeting should be organized to discuss the child's progress after implementing the action plan.
What if the problems persist?
Consider the appropriateness of requesting a psycho-educational assessment to determine possible learning, physical, emotional or psychological disabilities that may be impacting their educational performance.