NEW YORK — Before moving from her biological mother’s home and into foster care at age 10, Kathy Rando was in the gifted program at her elementary school. But by the time she was 17, Rando had lived in upwards of 10 foster homes and spent four years in a residential treatment center (RTC), before finally dropping out of high school.
“School was not really my main priority,” said Rando, now 25. “It was just making sure I was OK during the day.”
For youth in foster care, ensuring that basic needs like shelter, food and safety are met takes priority, often leaving education as an afterthought. Many foster youth have experienced trauma, which has an adverse affect on a child’s ability to learn, and children often change schools when they move into a new home. In New York City, the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) estimates this happens between 15 and 20 percent of the time, causing students to fall behind in school.