Legislation before the Indiana General Assembly aims to improve education outcomes for thousands of Indiana foster youth. The legislation authored by Representative Dale DeVon (R-Granger) would require the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) and Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) to share data on the educational progress of children in Indiana’s foster care system. The bill also requires the State Board of Education (SBOE) to issue an annual report on the education outcomes of Indiana foster youth.
House Bill 1314 has been referred to the House Education Committee. The legislation is being championed by the foster youth advocacy organization Indiana Connected By 25.
“Today, Indiana doesn’t even know the high school graduation rate of foster children in its own custody,” said Indiana Connected By 25 CEO Brent Kent. “These are basic indicators of life success.”
Nationally, less than half of foster youth graduate high school by age 18, fewer than three percent complete college, and 50 percent are unemployed at age 24. One in five foster youth are homeless within two years of aging out of the foster care system. (Source: Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative).
Kent says the state needs to do more through legislation to meet the academic needs of foster children.
“These young people are removed from their families through no fault of their own, but sadly more Indiana foster children are going to prison than college. We have to do more to support their academic success – their lives are at stake. Having the data is the first step to confronting their challenges and changing these outcomes.”
- Since 2012, Indiana has had the largest increase in the number of foster youth in the nation (60%) (November 2017 AFCARS Report)
- The number of youth in foster care in Indiana increased 17% from 2015-16 alone (the last years in which data are available) (November 2017 AFCARS Report)
- Foster youth suffer from PTSD at over two times the rate of combat veterans (Casey Family Programs)
- Foster children nationally have the highest dropout rate compared to all other student subgroups (Report: Invisible Achievement Gap)
- Nationally, foster youth are more likely to be enrolled in chronically underperforming schools (Report: Underperforming Schools and the Education of Vulnerable Children and Youth)
- Foster youth are three times more likely to be placed in special education compared to other students (Report: Invisible Achievement Gap)
Indiana Connected By 25, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable organizations that provides financial, educational and social support to assist foster care youth at a most critical time – when they are about to or have already transitioned out of the foster care system, most often with no family or economic support. Every year in Indiana, about 500 youth age out of the foster care system and into our communities. Statistically they fare dramatically worse than 18-year-olds with parental support. More information about Indiana Connected By 25 can be found at www.fostersuccess.org, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ConnectedBy25 and Twitter @ConnectedBy25.