UCLA Black Male Institute Study Details Educational Disenfranchisement of Black Students in Foster Care in Los Angeles County

by John McDonald

A new research brief by the UCLA Black Male Institute examines the educational disenfranchisement of Black youth in foster care in Los Angeles County, detailing troubling findings of their educational experiences with serious implications for educational success.

“From absenteeism and suspensions to graduation and college attendance, Black youth in foster care in Los Angeles County are having negative educational experiences resulting in outcomes that raise serious concerns for their future,” said Brianna Harvey, a researcher at the Black Male Institute and a Ph.D. student at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.  “This data shines an important light on their experiences and makes clear that Black foster youth in public schools in Los Angeles County are being disenfranchised in their educational experiences.”

California public schools educate over 46,000 K-12 students in foster care. About a third of them attend Los Angeles County public schools. The UCLA BMI analysis shows that 43% of all Black foster youth students in California are attending public schools in L.A. County. The research finds:

  • Black foster youth students disproportionately experience punitive discipline. They are suspended at a rate of 17%, in comparison to the overall L.A. County rate of 2%.
  • Black foster youth students have the highest representation in special education placement at 37%.
  • Black youth in foster care are twice as likely to be chronically absent as the average student in L.A. County, with the largest chronic absenteeism rate at 34%.
  • Only 51% of Black foster youth students graduated on time during the 2018-2019 school year.
  • Only 12% were eligible to attend a UC or CSU school upon high school completion in the same year.

Black youth in foster care are more likely to be suspended than to be eligible to enroll in a California State University,” said Kenyon Lee Whitman, a Ph.D. candidate at UC Riverside working with BMI on the research brief. “On every educational indicator we looked at, Black youth in foster care are having negative educational experiences. These findings raise an important question: Where is the care in foster care?“

The research findings regarding Black youth in foster care in L.A. County are based on an analysis of 2018-19 data from the California Department of Education by the UCLA Black Male Institute Research Lab conducted in the Fall of 2020. The findings are presented in a new research brief and graphic, The Disenfranchisement of Black Foster Youth: An Analysis of Los Angeles Public School Data.The graphic is available online at http://blackmaleinstitute.org/the-disenfranchisement-of-black-foster-youth/

“Our hope is that this research will provide educators and policy makers with new information about the educational experiences and challenges specific to Black youth in foster care,” said Tyrone C. Howard, a professor of education at UCLA and director of the UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families and the UCLA Black Male Institute. “Their needs too often go unseen and unanswered. That needs to change. Educators and policymakers need to act to ensure better educational opportunities and support for Black youth in foster care.”

 

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