2/20/2006 5:24:45 PM
CHILDREN ADRIFT: ADDRESSING THE EDUCATIONAL
NEEDS OF NEW YORK’S FOSTER CHILDREN
Judith M. Gerber and Sheryl Dicker*
For every child, quality education can clear the path to
opportunity and success in life. Yet every day children in foster care
face profound disruption to their education and significant obstacles
to school success. As a result, these vulnerable children—who enter
foster care1 already at risk for poor educational outcomes2—do not
receive the education they need and deserve.3
* Judith M. Gerber is the Education Consultant to the New York State Permanent Judicial
Commission on Justice for Children. Sheryl Dicker is the Executive Director of the New York
State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children.
1 In this Article, the term “foster care” is used to include children in state custody who are
placed voluntarily or involuntarily into a variety of out-of-home foster care settings, including
foster family homes, agency boarding homes, group homes, child care institutions, or certain
health care facilities. See N.Y. COMP. CODES R. & REGS. tit. 18, § 441.2(k) (2001); N.Y. SOC.
SERV. LAW § 383-c(1) (McKinney 2003).
2 See P. David Kurtz et al., Maltreatment and the School-Aged Child: School Performance
Consequences, 17 CHILD ABUSE & NEGLECT: INT’L J. 581, 588 (1993) (“School problems, both
academic and behavioral, have emerged as the single most dramatic and consistent risk factor
for school-aged abused and neglected children.”); see also CHERYL SMITHGALL ET AL., CHAPIN
HALL CTR. FOR CHILDREN AT THE UNIV. OF CHI., EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCES OF CHILDREN IN
OUT-OF-HOME CARE 72 (2004), available at http://www.chapinhall.org/article_abstract.aspx?
ar=1372&L2=64&L3=116 (finding, in a study of children in Chicago Public Schools, “that
slightly under two-thirds of [students] enter care either old for their grade or scoring in the
bottom quartile in reading”).
3 See CTR. WITHOUT WALLS, THE EDUCATIONA