Bill would hold DCF accountable for keeping track of foster kids’ education

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Nearly 8,000 Kansas children are currently in the foster care system, but there’s no concrete system in place to make sure they go to school and eventually graduate.

Senator Molly Baumgardner, (R) Louisburg, said she attempted to find out the number of foster care kids that graduated high school over the last couple of years. She said neither the Department of Education or the Department for Children and Families knew that information.

“That really raised a red flag of accountability,” said Baumgardner. “They guesstimate that only 38% of our foster seniors graduated from high school last year.”

Children in foster care are often bounced from home to home, and therefore, from school to school. Now, the Senate Committee on Education is looking to make sure those kids are successful no matter what.

The bill would require the Department for Children and Families and the State Board of Education to create a yearly report on how foster kids are performing in school. This includes data like graduation rates, grades, and standardized test scores as well as how many students were suspended or expelled that school year.

“I feel that once we start to glean that information, we are going to be better positioned to put into place interventions so that the schools are really able to help the kids that are in foster care with their academic, as well well as their social and emotional needs,” said Baumgardner.

Senator Baumgardner says the committee may also considering waiving tuition fees for high school students in foster care that are also taking college courses.

The hearing for this bill will take place on Tuesday at the Kansas Statehouse.

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