Anyone who has ever had to start a new school in the middle of the year probably remembers the barrage of feelings about the situation. Perhaps anger at having to leave the familiar school and all of your friends behind; the anxiety felt about whether or not you will be accepted by your new peers; the fear of not being on the same level as the new school. You may have thought about your grades not transferring, your testing scores being obsolete, you may not be able to make the sports team that you have been so dedicated to at your last school. These are all typical feelings when starting at a new school. Now, think about the feelings that are being compounded when you are living with strangers, separated from your siblings, and, to top it off, this is the third school you have attended in the past two years. This is an unfortunate reality for many of the more than 300,000 youth in America’s Foster Care System and the effects can last a lifetime.
The average length of stay for a child in the American Foster Care system is 12 months. During this year, it is estimated that 85% of youth remain in a single placement. This number drops to 64% in the second year, than to 35% for the third year. The trend tells us that the longer a child stays in the system, the more likely it is for them to get shuffled around. About 39% of all children in Foster Care are teenagers and the likelihood of them being put in a permanent home is significantly less than that of a younger child. In a survey of adults who were involved in the foster care system, 1/3 reported that they had changed schools five or more times.