Category Archives: Tutoring Foster Care Students

Education Pitfalls of the Foster Care System

Tutoring can help address education gaps for students in foster care.

The U.S. foster care system is designed to protect the general welfare of our children.  And it does a pretty good job making sure kids who are removed from their parents are placed in safe homes, receive clothing, and eat regularly. Other aspects of a child’s well-being often become secondary as children are unable to safely return home and experience multiple out-of-home placements.  The interruption of a child’s education when placed in foster care comes with a high price.

In “The Fleecing of Foster Children,” the Children’s Advocacy Institute and its partners details the educational outcomes of children in our foster care system.  Children removed from their homes often become immediately disadvantaged because their education is interrupted.  It can be challenging to find a foster placement in the same school district the child currently attends.  In addition, the removal from their parents care is traumatic.  Children take time to adapt to new schools and foster environments.

The picture is even starker for children who live in more than one foster care placement.  They soon lag several grade levels behind their peers.  Public school systems are already over-burdened and simply do not have the resources to pay special attention to these children.  It is not uncommon for them to completely fall off the radar of teachers.

Less than 3% of foster children actually earn a college degree. Not even half will be employed by the time they are 24 years old.  All of these factors combined mean that adults who were in foster care as youth have disproportionately higher levels of unemployment, arrest, and suicide.  Incredibly, more than one-third of this population will be homeless at some point, often when they age out of the foster care system.

Because education is the foundation of a financially secure future, many state and private foster care agencies are placing more emphasis on the education of children in their care.  To this end, they hire case workers and school liaisons to make sure children are attending school and are being assessed to determine current achievement levels.  Private tutoring services are secured to help close the gap in their learning with the goal of bringing foster care children up to par with their peers.  This is the best way to insure foster children have a fighting chance after graduating from high school.

Helping At-Risk Students Meet Standards and Achieve Academic Goals

Private tutoring can give at-risk students the confidence they need to succeed.

Expert tutoring services rely on research-based best practices to help low performing and at-risk students succeed in school. Effective instructional strategies are required for tutors who may only meet with students a few hours each week. Low-achieving students can easily bridge learning gaps and become motivated to do well in school. It just takes the right tutor to help make classroom lessons relevant and boost student confidence.

Short-Term Impact

The fastest way to determine if a tutor or tutoring service is being effective is to review student academic achievement and test scores. The primary goal of tutoring is to improve educational outcomes so at-risk students do not fail in school or later in life. When you use a tutoring service like Educational Tutorial Services, your student will be required to complete a pre-assessment and post-assessment to accurately measure their improvement. Our tutors also provide students with additional resources they can continue to use for on-going academic growth after the tutoring ends.

Long-Term Effects

In addition to the immediate benefits students receive from tutoring, there are long-term outcomes that impact students, parents, and the community. Long-term benefits that result from tutoring at-risk students include:

  • Students become motivated to succeed
  • Students are proud of academic achievements
  • Students stay in school until graduation
  • Students who have dropped out of school earn their GED
  • Students successfully transition to adulthood
  • Students become productive and contributing members of society

These very real benefits of tutoring have been well documented in various research studies over the past two decades. Even if your child has severe learning disabilities, intensive private tutoring can provide the one-on-one attention she needs to succeed in the classroom and in the real world.

Getting Started

The academic success of at-risk students depends on the adults in her life. A good tutoring service can match your child to the tutor that will be most effective in helping her meet academic content standards and achieve academic goals. It makes sense to let the tutoring service perform this function since it requires expertise to recruit, hire, and monitor qualified tutors. You risk your child’s academic future if you try to assume this responsibility yourself.

Education is Key to Success for Foster Children Aging-Out of System

Tutors provide supplemental education students in the foster care system need to successfully transition to adulthood.

The numbers paint a dismal picture for youth aging-out of the foster care system. Less than half will be employed by the time they are 24 years old. Nearly 25% have experienced homelessness since leaving the system. More than 75% of the young women will become pregnant at least once by the time they are 24 while more than 80% of the young men will be arrested by that age. Approximately 60% of the young men are actually convicted of committing a crime. A depressing picture by any account of children placed in a system that is supposed to have their best interests at heart.

Lack of basic education is the primary culprit that prevents former foster youth from succeeding as adults. Regardless of the age at which they are removed from their families and placed in foster care, their education is immediately interrupted. The average foster care child has over three placements throughout their life. Each new placement typically means a school change which translates into additional interruptions of their education. They get further and further behind. Soon they are performing several grades behind their peers.

Academic tutoring provides the support foster youth need to stay in and complete as much school as possible. Having a high school diploma or equivalent provides opportunities such as being able to get a job. The vast majority of youth who age-out of the foster care system before graduating from high school do not continue their education – they are focused on surviving. Resources exist in some communities to help these youth transition to independent living. But in other communities, they are on their own and that is a very scary proposition. They may not have contacts or know of places they can live and simply end up on the street.

A mere 6% of foster youth who age-out of the system earn a college degree by the time they reach 24. They are able to achieve this because they take advantage of the academic supports that are made available to them. Many have mentors who help them through the process. Often these mentors are tutors who assisted them during their high school years. It is not uncommon for a tutor to work with the same foster care students over multiple years. Tutors help youth close their education gaps so they are better prepared if they age-out of the foster care system.

Online Tutoring: A Silver Lining for Foster Children

Online tutoring provides specific benefits to foster youth.

As much as we wish a healthy and settled life for a child in foster care, it may never happen. Children in foster care regularly experience the stress of changing placements. This is a painful but important fact that affects the study habits and learning patterns of foster children, even those considered to be exceptional.

Online tutoring has been available for some time.  When private tutoring is not available, online tutoring can prove beneficial for foster youth:

1.       Continuation of Learning: While in foster care, a child may have to move from home to home, and sometimes family to family which disrupts the general emotional health as well as education of the child. But if a student is enrolled to an online tutoring program, he or she will be able to sit with the instructor whenever it is convenient to him or her  just by signing in.

2.       Static Studying Environment: Even if the child has to move to a new home, he or she can continue with the same online tutor. Classroom teachers may change but online tutors remain constant regardless of where you live. For this reason, online tutoring is one of the best options for foster youth.

3.       Audio-Visual Impact on Learning: Regardless of learning style, online tutoring can benefit foster youth. Online learning environments have more audio and visual effect which helps the student to understand and remember material better.

Consider this option if your foster student is struggling in school and needs supplemental attention from an experienced tutor. You may be amazed at how motivated your child becomes in school. It only takes an interested adult and exceptional teaching to get a child back on track academically. Online tutoring provides an interactive forum for foster youth to engage with a compassionate tutor while catching up with important educational concepts.

How Private Tutoring Can Help High School Students

Private tutoring can help high school students excel in school.

Students can benefit in many ways from private tutoring. High school students can get the extra academic support they need to take their achievement up a level. Private tutoring is an opportunity to get that edge you need to stand out when you begin to apply to colleges. You will find that colleges place significant emphasis on high school academic achievement so getting a high GPA can make the difference between getting into your first choice school and settling for a second or third choice. Private tutoring can also assist high school students improve standardized test scores.

High School Academic Performance

High school students frequently seek private tutoring to boost grades and to successfully complete AP classes. Honors classes are typically equivalent to college-level coursework. To maintain a competitive GPA, students turn to private tutoring to help develop organizational and study skills. These academic habits students develop in high school can give them a head start in college. Even if you do not need specific help with a particular subject, your tutor can give you extra homework to hone your academic skills.

College Admissions Test Preparation

A private tutor can help you prepare for a variety of college admission tests beginning with the ACT or SAT. Getting into top colleges and universities is highly competitive and most maintain test score requirements you must meet to be considered for admission. Tutors help students identify areas of strength and weaknesses. Together you will develop a plan of attack to shore up your strong areas while tackling the areas in which you need assistance.

College Coursework Preparation

If you have anxiety about college-level coursework, a private tutor can help you prepare for your college experience while you are still in high school. They will begin by making sure you are proficient in basic skills and core areas of study. If you want assistance to master specific subjects, private tutoring is the solution. You can learn how to balance your course load and learn new study methods to ensure your college experience is successful.

Special Education Tutoring within the Context of the IEP

Intensive in-home tutoring to students with special education needs is coordinated with the student's IEP.

Although Educational Tutorial Services offers nationwide private tutoring and test-prep tutoring to students of all ages, we are perhaps best known for our special education tutoring programs for at-risk students within the foster care system.

Having Somebody Speak Up For You

When families with special needs children first hear the diagnosis of their child’s disorder or disability, it can be numbing, devastating and deeply upsetting. Many parents ask “Where do we go from here?” It is common to turn to advocates like us to help guide you through the tutoring process.

Having one-on-one special education tutoring is important and can turn a child’s life around – since the in-home tutor will be far better able to recognize an individual child’s needs. For example if a student’s learning has improved and their development requires the IEP to be adapted to incorporate this, the monthly progress report will alert the school and caregivers to this.

Taking a Personalized Approach

Students are far more likely to improve and succeed in their learning if they feel secure, happy and their individual needs are met. We recognize this and tailor our teaching approach accordingly. Our tutors are very compassionate and have experience working with all learning abilities.

There are pre- and post assessments and monthly progress reports which are sent to carers, parents, teachers at the student’s school and to school administrators, but there are also the skills tutors have acquired by working with foster children and at-risk students – they are trained not just as special education tutoring providers but to recognize a child’s development needs as professionals within the context of foster care.

Often tutors come from the same community as their students and, therefore, have good insight into the concerns of foster parents and other caregivers as well as the challenges families face every day.  Because many of our tutors are certified in special education, we are uniquely qualified to provide special education tutoring. Learn more about our special education programs.

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.

Tips to Improve Special Education Tutoring at Home

Classroom techniques can be effective when applied to special education tutoring.

Your foster child may already be receiving special education tutoring at home in addition to inclusive classroom education, but as most foster parents know, much can be done to enhance a child’s learning experience when learning is naturally embedded in their playtime.

A sense of achievement can work wonders to boost confidence in and out of the classroom environment. Special education tutoring doesn’t stop when the private tutor goes home for the day. With a few simple devices and a good measure of imagination and preparation, your child’s special learning needs can be addressed during playtime, too. Here are a few tips:

Use Classroom Tricks at Home

Your special education tutoring program may already include help with writing and copying information from the class board, but you can help your child in a simple and practical way by preparing a laminated sheet of paper that has a sentence window cut-out. The sheet or card features two slits which are set at right angles to the window and to one side, creating a slide.

Your child can use the slide to pull up or down the laminated card and, as soon as the window reaches the sentence to be copied out, it can reveal the whole sentence or just one word at a time, whatever the child feels more confident with. At home you can use a laminated card that spells out some of your child’s favorite bedtime stories, jokes or riddles and ask your child to copy them on a fresh piece of paper with the help of your slide.

Letters are Weird, Aren’t They?

Tutoring for special education students often involves teaching children with learning disabilities to overcome their fear of letters and their confusion over identifying them correctly. Make use of your child’s hobbies and likes – if your child likes to paint, encourage “letter pictures”, perhaps showing an animal for each letter or a favorite item of food, so that letters appear as friends instead of foes.

You could make an alphabet frieze so your child can remember what letters look like when she  is doing a writing exercise or you are exploring books together.

Older children who love being online and who perhaps already receive some form of online tutoring as part of their special education tutoring program can have fun with a variety of online teaching aids designed with parents and students in mind. Look for various government and university websites that offer great activities and teaching aids for free.

Ask your child’s tutor what you can do to help your child with reading and build this into playtime. Find out what kind of questions you should ask during reading exercises to ensure your child understands what you are reading together.

Foster Care Students Need Improved Educational Opportunities

With quality tutoring, students in foster care have a better chance of succeeding in school.

With more than 500,000 children living in foster care in this country, the need to focus on educational opportunities has never been greater. In addition to increased risks for incarceration, pregnancy, and homelessness, students aging out of the foster care system have a lower chance of gainful employment because of their poor education. Basic reading and math education is required for most entry-level jobs. Unfortunately, as a result of the multiple disruptions to their education, foster care students often do not have the skills needed to achieve positive life outcomes.

Better educational opportunities are needed for several reasons. Foster care students who do well academically have a greater chance of graduating from high school. It is challenging for teachers to focus on the unique needs of these students in the classroom. Fortunately, there are additional ways for foster care students to get the educational skills needed to succeed in life. Intensive tutoring is one of the most effective ways to help students in foster care maintain academic skills as they progress through the foster care system and enter adulthood.

County foster care agencies can partner with organizations like Educational Tutorial Services to ensure children in their care receive additional learning assistance. Students who participate in intensive tutoring programs are better able to meet achievement goals comparable to their peers. Without this type of assistance, students in foster care tend to lag behind several grade levels. Ultimately, this will impact their ability to be productive adults.

Tutoring that provides more than homework assistance can help foster care students prepare for the transition to independent living. Students can learn to be more disciplined and conscientious about the quality of their school work as well as turning assignments in on time. Tutors often serve a quasi-mentor role to students which can prove powerful when they are in foster care. Students thrive on positive feedback and encouragement tutors provide inherently.

As schools continue to struggle with funding issues, students in foster care can still get the support they need with the right tutoring program. Programs designed specifically for these students offer the most benefits. Not only do students in foster care get the assistance they need, but society gets a better citizen in the process which is, after all, a primary goal of our country’s education system.

In-Home Tutoring for Special Education Students

Tutors who provide in-home tutoring to students with special needs should do so in alignment with the student's IEP.

At-risk students who have been removed from their families and placed in temporary foster care or children who have been through a traumatic experience and are now part of the long-term foster care system often have very different needs from children who live in a happy and stable family environment.

With some 114,000 children in foster care across the US on any given day, children are often moved from home to home, from neighborhood to neighborhood and, as a result, have gaps in their education. A large proportion of them, around 30 to 40%, require special education tutoring because they have been diagnosed with a learning disability.

Tutoring for special education students can take many forms and varies according to their Individualized Education Programs, their abilities and challenges as well as their age.  Tutoring may incorporate online tutoring or private tutoring with workstations with technology that allows learning and interaction with other students or simply help to improve in a specific area such as math, reading and writing or acquiring better study habits and discipline.

Working with Caregivers, Schools, and Social Workers

Whoever provides special education tutoring for foster children or at-risk students must be able to work together with all the different members of this “learning team”. The team consists of the child, the students’ school, foster parents or caregivers, and any agencies in the community providing services to the family and student.  Collaboration is essential for the student to succeed academically.

Providing Private Tutoring for Individual Students

Although legislation requires that teaching methods should be universal in their substance and technique, the wide range of learning and physical disabilities as well as behavioral disorders makes it necessary for special education tutoring to be tailored to individual students. Many at-risk students and foster youth are still waiting to be diagnosed officially, making it even harder for mainstream inclusive schools to provide the education these children need.

Such children often feel they are just “a number” in the care system, so one-on-one home tutoring addresses a child’s very real need to feel “special” in the best sense of the word!  Suitable special education tutoring takes into consideration a child’s need to learn at his own pace and ability, while at the same time stressing cognitive skills development and instilling good study habits.

Applying Best Practices

The National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) provides educators with a research forum where new teaching methods and ideas can be exchanged and discussed. Asking the right questions at school should provide caregivers and foster parents with the answers as to what their special education child will need within the context of their Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Educational Tutorial Services ensures all tutors know how to provide tutoring services that are aligned to IEP for maximum benefit to students.