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Can foster kids go to private or homeschool?

Don’t look now, but a new school year is just around the corner. So we thought we’d take a minute to answer one of the most common educational questions we hear:

Must children in foster care attend public school or can they go to private or homeschool?

Until recently, children in foster care could only attend public school. But last year a policy change made it possible, in certain circumstances, for kids in foster care to participate in non-traditional education (i.e. Private school or home school). 

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This question is still answered case-by-case by the Division of Children Youth & Families. And for the vast majority of children in foster care, public school remains the best available education. Public schools tend to have more diverse opportunities, better credentialed teachers, and more resources for handling the challenging behaviors that sometimes result from the abuse and neglect that brought kids into foster care. And, at least in our corner of Washington State, public schools are all pretty strong.

But there can be situations in which a child would be better served by a different educational setting. If you think the child in your home is one of them, contact your child’s social worker and make your case. Or, if you’re working with a private agency like Skookum, let us know and we’ll take it from there. 

Fall is a great time to become a foster parent because lots of kids enter foster care for the first time. Visit skookumkids.org/fostercare to explore if it might be right for your family.

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