According to the National Working Group on Foster Care and Education, high-school graduation rates of foster youth are no better than 50 percent. In Kansas, child welfare data from 2013 reveal that only 28.6 percent of young adults have achieved a high school diploma or GED by the time state custody is terminated. School transfers caused by a scarcity of local foster homes and frequent placement changes exacerbate educational instability and impede academic achievement. Benchmarks in Kansas indicate that only 19.1 percent of foster children age six and older attend the same school as they did before their removal from home. These data indicate poor educational outcomes for children in Kansas foster care.
Using data obtained from a statewide assessment, the Kansas Partnership of Educating Kids in Care (KPEKC) established five goals:
1. Strengthen interagency collaboration
2. Improve data sharing to inform practice and track progress
3. Develop policy and practice recommendations
4. Enhance strategic communications
5. Increase youth engagement
KPEKC’s lead partners are the Kansas Department for Children and Families, the Kansas State Department of Education, and the Office of Judicial Administration. The University of Kansas Center for Public Partnerships & Research, and the KU School of Social Welfare act as conveners and provide support.
KPEKC partners meet three to four times a year, and subcommittees assigned to specific topics meet more frequently. A memorandum of agreement formalizes and defines the partners’ roles.