Educational Tutorial Services Helps Foster Care Children Achieve Grade-Level Reading Goals

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Educational Tutorial Services applies findings from Annie E. Casey Foundation's recently published "Early Warning: A Research Update on Third-Grade Reading" to outcomes for children in foster care. Foster care agencies, foster parents, and schools can help children when they return to school next month by enrolling them in intensive one-on-one tutoring programs.

Being able to read at grade-level significantly increases a foster child's chances of being a successful adult.

At the beginning of last month, the Annie E. Casey Foundation announced new research that confirms the long-held conviction that children not reading at grade-level by the conclusion of their third grade are more likely to struggle academically and face barriers to success upon graduation from high school. Disadvantaged students are at higher risk for experiencing these obstacles. Children in foster care, who often deal with disruptions in their education, are perhaps most at risk.

The average length of stay in foster care is nearly three years. Most children in the foster care system will have multiple placements during that time. In fact, nearly one-third of these children will have at least five placements. Depending on their community, this could mean five different schools during their time in the foster care system which causes education delays, social trauma, and personal anxiety. Approximately 50% of the nearly 500,000 children in foster care are under the age of 10, placing them in the critical age group targeted by the Foundation's research. In their report "Early Warning: A Research Update on Third-Grade Reading" (6/6/2013, http://www.aecf.org/KnowledgeCenter/Publications.aspx?pubguid={58440238-1626-476F-AFDA-155D2185FB3A}), the Foundation reiterates the urgency of ensuring young children get the academic support needed to be reading-proficient by the time they enter the fourth grade.

Educational Tutorial Services has found that intensive tutoring can close the educational gap many children in foster care experience due to disruptions in school attendance. There is frequently a delay in school records being transferred between schools. Until the new school has the proper paperwork, children in foster care are not permitted to attend school. Once enrolled in the new school, the foster child is now behind his peers in terms of assignment completion and skill building. With intensive tutoring, it is possible to help children in foster care achieve grade-level reading proficiency. When working with foster care children, Educational Tutorial Services recommends at least 2-4 hours of tutoring each week during the school year and up to 15 hours weekly over summer break. "Continuous intensive tutoring addresses various issues faced by children in foster care. It helps close the achievement gap by improving reading proficiency and the child's overall ability to learn other subjects," says Lisa Russell, Executive Director of Educational Tutorial Services.

Improving reading proficiency generally improves academic outcomes across the curriculum. When foster care children achieve academic success, they are more likely to do well as adults. Those who do not achieve reading proficiency struggle with other subjects as well and are at risk for dropping out of school. Unfortunately, this is just the beginning of their troubling future. Foster care children who do not receive their rightful education have a greater chance of being homeless, becoming pregnant, or being imprisoned. These are very real concerns that can be addressed by the education system and partner agencies like Educational Tutorial Services who support the mission of the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. Foster parents can learn about education options for their foster child by contacting the child's case worker who can then call 1-888-705-6383 for additional information about intensive tutoring services.

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