What is the educational situation of children and adolescents in care ?
Recent studies in Europe have shown significant differences in career and academic performance of children and adolescents in care in its various forms (foster care and residential care) compared to the general population.
This situation is due to many reasons of various kinds: socio-economic (contexts of economic poverty among young people and their families), difficult family contexts, behaviour problems of young people, etc.
The educational situation of children and adolescents in care in its various forms (residential or family care) has not been an issue sufficiently treated as a priority, neither in a comprehensive manner, nor generalized as part of scientific research. Despite this starting point, symptomatic in itself, existing research shows a significantly lower school performance and results by child and teenagers in family or residential care in comparison with the rest of the population. (Montserrat Casas, Baena, 2015)
The research conducted within the framework of the European project Yippee provided a very meaningful data in several countries that pointed in this direction:
- United Kingdom: Data shows that the percentage of youth in the protection system ending compulsory secondary education is 41.2%, compared to the 90.5% among the general population (Cameron, Jackson and Hollingworth, 2011).
- Sweden: 38% of ex-guarded young people had completed post-compulsory secondary education, compared with 85% of the general population (Højer and Johansson, 2010).
- Denmark: Data shows that those in foster care who had completed post-obligatory secondary education in the age group of 18-22 were a 2.5%, and a 30.8% among those in the age group 27-30 years, in contrast with the 37.6% and 46.1% respectively when it comes to the general population. As for higher education, there is a 7.3% among the young people who had gone through the protection system that completed it, compared to 34.7% of the general population (Bryderup, Quisgaard Trentel and Kring, 2010).
The study showed that many of the youth in care suffered deficiencies in basic education and regular interruptions in their education that the school system could not compensate. This was stated given the low priority that was given to education by social workers and caregivers. It was also found that young people in care are less likely than others to progress to higher secondary level and complete their training.
A wide range of youth in care lacked of professional guidance and were often misguided. Young people were often under pressure to qualify for a short-cycle vocational training in order to be financially independent as soon as possible instead of opting for academic or vocational training at a higher level which often offers more long-term satisfaction.
Based on this context, it is paradoxical that youth in care despite the large investment in resources and professional efforts that gathers around, fails to succeed in the education/training topic. Given the role of training in social ascension, failure to properly resolve this issue perpetuates the risk of exclusion in their life trajectories.