Foster Youth Education

The Stuart Foundation has a long history of deep involvement in child welfare grantmaking, which has resulted in policy and practice reforms, and improved outcomes for children and youth in foster care, in California, Washington State, and nationally.

The Foundation’s guiding vision for its grantmaking was to provide the opportunity for vulnerable youth to become self-sustaining, responsible, and contributing members of their communities. To this end, the Stuart Foundation’s approach was to partner with both public child welfare agencies as well as private sector providers to address the challenges and inequities faced by children in foster care. Our decades of grantmaking engaged in inter-related strategies, including creating permanent connections for older foster youth, increasing their educational opportunities and successes, supporting research to provide actionable information, engaging young people with lived experience, and providing compelling data and reports to support the decision-making of key stakeholders and policy makers.

The Stuart Foundation believes that each and every foster youth can be successful in school, careers and in higher education if they are provided the opportunity and individualized support they need. Today, we continue to support organizations that provide educational support and services to foster youth in the K-12 education systems. We believe that educational success provides the opportunity for a better future for all youth and for future generations.

Addressing Policy and Practice Reforms

The Foundation has invested significant financial and staff resources in an array of initiatives to accelerate reform in the child welfare systems of California and Washington. Through this work, we learned that there are critical activities and resources beyond traditional grant making that are necessary to make significant and lasting change in the lives of children affected by the child welfare system.

Stuart Foundation Involvement Included

Co-Investment Partnership
The Partnership seeks to ensure a coordinated approach to the investments needed to substantially improve the child welfare outcomes of safety, permanency and well-being in California.

Family to Family Initiative
The California Family to Family Initiative was a public-private partnership between national and state foundations and the State of California. Partners in the California Initiative include the Annie E Casey Foundation, the Stuart Foundation, the Walter S. Johnson Foundation, the California Department of Social Services and the Center for Social Services Research at UC Berkeley.

The Youth Law Center’s Quality Parenting Initiative
Based on the lessons learned from Family to Family, the Quality Parenting Initiative is an approach to strengthening foster care, by focusing on excellent parenting for all children in the child welfare system.

California Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care
The Commission was charged with providing recommendations to the Judicial Council of California on the ways in which the courts and their child welfare partners could improve safety, permanency, well-being, and fairness outcomes for children and families in the state.

California Child Welfare Council
The Council serves as an advisory body responsible for improving the collaboration and processes of the multiple agencies and the courts that serve the children in the child welfare system.

Local Control Funding Formula – Strengthening Local K–12 Accountability
This report, funded by the Stuart Foundation, examined the new role of county offices and offered recommendations to strengthen the LCAP process.

Partners for Our Children
Partners for Our Children developed the Washington State Child Well-Being Data Portal — a powerful new web tool that provides access to data about children and families who interact with the child welfare system.

Focusing on Permanent Connections for Older Foster Youth

All children and youth in the foster care system need and deserve a permanent connection to a committed and caring adult who will provide the same guidance, love and support that a parent would. Permanency provides meaning, purpose, and continuity in a young person’s life and supports continuous development from childhood through adulthood.

Stuart Foundation Involvement Included

Foster Care Transition Toolkit
This toolkit served to inspire and support youth currently in foster care and young adults who have aged out of care to pursue college and career opportunities.

California Permanency for Youth Project
This project ensured that no youth left foster care without a lifelong connection to a caring and committed adult.

California Connected by 25 Initiative (CC25I)
This six-year initiative led by the Stuart and Walter S. Johnson Foundations aimed to transform county child welfare practice and improve outcomes in key areas of the lives of foster youth ages 14 through 24. Developed to fundamentally change the trajectory for youth emancipating from foster care, grants were provided to child welfare departments in Fresno, Glenn, Humboldt, Orange, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Solano, and Stanislaus counties to develop community partnerships, engage and empower youth, and collect and evaluate data.

Creating Educational Opportunities and Successes

The Stuart Foundation believes that foster youth can be successful in school and in college if they are provided the opportunity and individualized support they need. We believe that educational success is the path to a better future for each foster youth and for future generations.

The Foundation invested in organizations that provide educational support and services to foster youth in the K-12 education systems as well as to support former foster youth on college campuses. We supported the following initiatives focused on educational opportunities:

Stuart Foundation Involvement Included

The Education Equals Partnership
The Education Equals Partnership was dedicated to improving educational experiences and outcomes for students from foster care, starting with preschool and extending through high school. Four California counties—Fresno, Orange, Sacramento, and Santa Cruz—were demonstration sites for the Partnership

Washington State – Treehouse provides youth in foster care King County, Washington with the essential and academic supports they equally deserve to help them graduate at the same rate as their peers with a plan for their future.

California College Pathways
California College Pathways is a statewide partnership that provides resources and leadership to campuses and community organizations to help foster youth succeed at community colleges and four-year universities. By engaging institutions to work together, sharing best practices, and advocating for policies that support foster youth in higher education, California College Pathways is helping foster youth across the state achieve their higher education goals and move on to fulfilling careers.

Supporting Research to Provide Compelling Actionable Information

A guiding principle of Stuart Foundation grantmaking has been to invest in research to guide policy and practice to improve outcomes for vulnerable youth, and to inform accountability systems. Foundation supported reports, tools and trainings have advanced policy and practice reforms at the national, state and local level.

Stuart Foundation Involvement Included

CalYOUTH Study
CalYOUTH is an evaluation of the impact of the California Fostering Connections to Success Act (AB 12) on outcomes during the transition to adulthood for foster youth, surveyed at 17, 19 and 21. CalYOUTH includes collection and analysis of information from three sources: 1) transition-age youth, 2) child welfare workers, and 3) government program data.

The California Child Welfare Indicators Project (CCWIP)
The Stuart Foundation was a major funder of CCWIP, a collaborative venture between the University of California at Berkeley (UCB) and the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). The project is housed in the School of Social Welfare, and provides policymakers, child welfare workers, researchers, and the public with direct access to customizable information on California’s entire child welfare system.

Invisible Achievement Gap Parts 1 and 2
These reports illustrated the impact of foster care on students’ educational success and provided an understanding of the experiences of youth in foster care as it relates to their educational outcomes broke new ground on this important issue. The report linked official state-level student education and child welfare data, creating California’s first-ever education snapshot of all K-12 students in foster care.

At Greater Risk
Groundbreaking study that compiled data from 11,300 youth who were in foster care during high school from 2002 through 2007. The study confirmed that youth in foster care were less likely than other disadvantaged students and much less likely than the general population to complete high school. These disparities continued with enrollment in community college and persistence in community college once enrolled.

Turning Dreams into Degrees: Past, Present and Future of California College Pathways
Through interviews and data summarized the story of how campus-based support programs for foster youth went from a single campus serving supporting a handful of students to a statewide movement that has transformed the lives of thousands.

Helping Former Foster Youth Graduate from College: Campus Support Programs in California and Washington State
The Stuart Foundation funded Chapin Hall’s research which examined program implementation of campus support programs.

Ready to Succeed
In the fall of 2009, a team from the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning and funded by the Stuart Foundation convened six discussion groups to explore how teachers and foster children and youth interact in the classroom to improve educational outcomes.

Engaging Young People and Key Stakeholders in Decision Making

Stuart Foundation assisted organizations that amplify, organize, and support the voices of key stakeholders, including young people, birth parents, advocates, and community organizations. To support youth, family, and community engagement, we invested in organizations that provide opportunities for current and former foster youth to advocate for themselves and those in similar situations.

Stuart Foundation Involvement Included

A public education campaign supported by the Stuart Foundation, FosterMore centered on a public service announcement (PSA) aired during National Foster Care Month, accompanied by a website directing the public on practical ways to get involved in supporting young people.

The idea behind the campaign was that no one can better speak to the impact, challenges, and hopes of the foster care system than those who have experienced it firsthand.

FosterClub supports authentic youth engagement opportunities for young people to speak out and work to increase the educational achievement of foster children and youth up to the same level as their peers who have not been involved in the child welfare system.

California Youth Connection
California Youth Connection (CYC) is a youth led organization that develops leaders who empower each other and their communities to transform the foster care system through legislative and policy change.