Benefits of Academic Tutoring for Foster Care Students

Tutoring provides much needed academic assistance to children in foster care.

Children placed in foster care have already some kind of trauma whether it is abuse, neglect, or separation from their family. It is estimated that in any given year, nearly 500,000 children will experience a foster placement. Approximately 35% of children in foster care will spend at least two years there with at least one-third in the system for five or more years (U.S. Children’s Bureau 2012).

Positive education experiences can lessen the stress of out-of-home placements and familial separations. Unfortunately, school districts are typically not equipped to deal with the extra needs of foster care students. It is not uncommon for foster care students to have to change schools because of their foster placement. This is yet another way their education is interrupted. It does not take long for them to lag behind their peers. As a result, child welfare agencies turn to tutoring to help get these students back on their academic tracks.

Not only does tutoring benefit foster care students academically, but it rebuilds their confidence and self-esteem. Giving them the skills to control certain aspects of their future is incredibly empowering for these students. A qualified tutor with experience working with foster care students can provide behavior management tips so students can concentrate on their academics. Tutors can help students learn valuable organizational and study skills they can use in different settings.

Introducing yet another adult role model into the student’s life is an additional benefit. As an authority figure, the tutor can have a significant impact on the student. Tutors encourage students to do their very best. Even short periods of one-on-one attention can inspire students to achieve. They want to make their tutors proud. For students who change foster placements, their tutor is often the most consistent presence in their life.

An overarching benefit of academic tutoring is that it has the potential for improving life chances of foster care children. By closing their education gap, tutoring provides the stabilizing force these children need to become successful adults. They have a fighting chance to pursue higher education, get a good job, and raise a family. The alternative is a life rife with hardships including homelessness, extensive unemployment, addiction, and arrests. And this alternative is simply unacceptable.