Background Chronic school absenteeism and frequent school changes particularly among younger

Background Chronic school absenteeism and frequent school changes particularly among younger children may be antecedents for the high rates of school failure and subsequent dropout among youth in foster care. a permanent placement prior to 45 days between 45 days and 9 months or failed to do so within 9 months respectively. Children who reunified home were classified as a fourth category. Poisson regression controlling for baseline factors was used to compare days absent and number of schools attended across categories of placement experience. Results Among the 209 children 51 were male 79 were African American and 55% were initially placed with kin. One third of children reunified home; among children who did not reunify one half was early stable Sitagliptin phosphate and a third was unstable. Adjusted rates of school absenteeism increased in stepwise fashion as children’s placements became more unstable; children with unstable placements were 37% more likely to be absent than those with early placement stability (p=0.029). Children who reunified during the study demonstrated the highest rates of absenteeism; however there was no significant difference in absenteeism before or after reunification. Number of schools attended increased as stability worsened with the standardized rate of schools attended reaching 3.6 schools (95% CI 3.1-4.1) over a two year period among children in unstable placements. Conclusions The relationship between placement experience and school absenteeism and school change illustrates the need to better coordinate the educational experience of high-risk children in foster care. The secondary finding of high absenteeism among children in the process of returning home illustrates that educational challenges for youth may be equally if not more concerning among the greater majority of youth in child welfare who remain home with birth parents. (110th United States Congress 2008 elevated concerns about educational stability for children in foster care. The legislation responded to reports documenting significant instability in schools for children in the child welfare system and rates of high school dropout as high as 75% (Balfanz Herzog & Iver 2007 Ferguson & Wolkow 2012 Smithgall 2004 Stone 2007 placed new requirements on states to improve the educational stability of their child welfare populations. While the critical outcomes of older youth in care demand attention the antecedents of dropout can likely be found in earlier school engagement. Two predictors of Sitagliptin phosphate dropout are absenteeism and school stability Sitagliptin phosphate which can threaten school engagement and achievement particularly among young school-aged children (Balfanz 2006 Balfanz et al. 2007 Eckenrode Rowe Laird & Rabbit Polyclonal to APC1. Brathwaite 1995 Rumberger 2003 For example absenteeism in kindergarten predicts poor reading achievement in first grade with an even stronger impact for children in poverty; therefore decreasing absenteeism among young children may be critical for later educational success (Chang 2008 Kearney 2008 For young children in foster care who are an important potential population for targeted intervention research to describe the degree of absenteeism and school stability or their predictors is limited. A recent literature review found only five studies Sitagliptin phosphate reporting on absenteeism of children in care (Trout Hagaman Casey Reid & Epstein 2008 One report of all school-aged children in care in public schools in New York City cited significant absenteeism with improved attendance on entering care for young children and modest negative effect of placement change on attendance (Conger & Rebeck 2001 Conclusions about absenteeism are limited due to different attendance measures population ages placement types and lack of appropriate controls. Improving school stability has been a primary focus of written by the Administration for Children and Families (July 9 2010 however agencies are given flexibility in how this is carried out. New initiatives to track and address absenteeism for children in foster care hold promise for establishing best practices (American Bar Association Legal Center for Foster Care and Education 2008 Absenteeism should be defined broadly and consistently to capture the actual attendance in school. Second a protocol for responding to absenteeism should be established or clarified for children in care if processes differ from broader truancy prevention Sitagliptin phosphate programs. In addition children reunifying home could benefit from monitoring.