Students in Foster Care

Program Description

Children and youth in foster care represent one of the most vulnerable student populations in the United States.  Of the approximately 437,000 children in foster care in 2018, approximately 270,000 were school-aged.  Studies have demonstrated that students in foster care are more likely than their peers to struggle academically and to drop-out of school before graduation.  These outcomes are due, in large part, to the high mobility of this student population, who experience much higher levels of residential and school instability than do most other student populations.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), underscores the need for enhanced educational stability for students in foster care.  For the first time, Title I, Part A of the ESEA now requires State educational agencies (SEAs) and local educational agencies (LEAs) to take steps to minimize school placement changes for students in foster care and, in turn, to improve academic outcomes for students in foster care.  In addition, the ESEA, as amended by the ESSA, now requires SEAs and LEAs to report on academic outcomes for students in the foster care subgroup.

While there is not an independent funding stream or grant program to support this student population, SEAs and LEAs can use Title I, Part A funds to implement the ESEA’s educational stability requirements for students in foster care.  The U.S. Department of Education is committed to improving academic outcomes for students in foster care, and OESE provides technical assistance and guidance to SEAs, LEAs, and other stakeholders to ensure the success of students in foster care.


  • Bryan Thurmond, Program Officer
    Deborah Spitz, Group Leader
    Office of School Support & Accountability
    U.S. Department of Education, OESE
    400 Maryland Ave SW
    Washington, D.C. 20202-6132