Educational outcomes of children in foster care

New research finds limited evidence that being in foster care is to blame for the poor educational outcomes of children

Findings from research 

A literature review undertaken collaboratively by researchers in the School for Policy Studies and Graduate School of Education University of Bristol and the Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and Education and Education Department, University of Oxford has just been published.

Authors of the report: Aoife O’Higgins, Judy Sebba and Nikki Luke Published: September 2015

Main finding

Overall, the review found that there is a correlation between being in care and educational outcomes, but that this relationship is mediated by a number of individual, family and environmental risk factors. Although the evidence is mixed, there was little support for the claim that being in foster or kinship care per se is detrimental to the educational outcomes of children in care.

More key findings

The review found little evidence that being in care is detrimental to educational outcomes, however it highlights that children do not appear to benefit academically from being in care.

Simply entering care may not be sufficient to mitigate years of maltreatment or other experiences impinging on educational progress. More time, or more intensive services and support may be required.


Many of the difficulties faced by children while they are in care, including placement instability may preclude them from getting on in their education.

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