New York City is at last establishing a team to support students in foster care, a long-overdue investment in the education of thousands of kids. The city Department of Education plans to set up the office this school year.
Educators and parents, along with scores of advocacy groups, have long pushed for the city to set up a dedicated support group for students in foster care. That was the recommendation of a city task force in 2018, and it has been a priority for the City Council’s Education Committee, which held a hearing on the issue in the spring.
About 7,500 New York City students, overwhelmingly from Black and low-income communities, are in foster care each year. They need extra support: only 43% graduated on time in 2021, compared with 81% of their peers outside the foster system, according to a coalition of advocacy groups that supports creating such a team.
The new office’s nine staff positions, however, will fall short of the 11 promised by the previous administration.
During the 2019-20 school year, almost 1 in 5 students in foster care changed schools when entering the system and again each time their foster placement changed. Currently, the DOE only guarantees bus service for students in foster care when it is mandated on their IEPs. Federal and state laws require the city to provide transportation to students in foster care so they can stay in their original schools when it’s in their best interests, and the city must meet that obligation.
The Adams administration has taken the first steps to support students in the foster care system. It must go the rest of the way and help these kids get everything they need to thrive.