As a homeschool mom who provides Tips for Foster Parents, I am often asked, can you homeschool a foster child? The answer is not simple, but below is my best advice for getting it done.
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Always remember that the laws and rules for foster care, though they may be similar, are different in each state. You should always verify the policies concerning foster parenting with your own state.
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Do foster kids have to go to public school?
Until recently, all foster children were required to attend public school, and that may still be true in some states, so you should always check your state policies. However, even in those states where the general rule is that a foster child must attend traditional public school, exceptions can be made.
In many states, a foster child can now be educated in a non traditional school setting. This may include a private school, three day two day school, and even homeschool.
Should I homeschool a foster child?
That really depends on you and the child. Assuming you gain approval for homeschooling a foster child, there are several things you should consider before homeschooling your foster child:
Should age be a factor in homeschooling a foster child?
Age should certainly be a determining factor is choosing to homeschool a foster child. Has the child even begun traditional schooling? If so, they may already be used to a typical classroom setting, and that setting may be a pillar in a child’s life.
For older children in foster care, they may want to stay in school to maintain relationships with friends. However, if they are struggling socially in school, removal from that environment may be a positive thing.
School is more than education for foster children.
It is important to remember that school plays an important role in the lives of children who are severely neglected. School is the play where many of their physical needs are met. Removing a neglected child from a school setting, where they are consistently fed and sheltered, may trigger some unexpected behavioral issues.
What about special school services for foster children?
Many foster children receive more services at school than just the basic education. Before making the decision to homeschool a foster child, first ask what additional services you will need to provide at home such as:
- Occupational Therapy
- Speech Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Feeding Therapy
- Behavioral Therapy
- Assistive Technology and Adaptive Equipment
- Group Therapy and Instruction
- School Health Services
That may seem like an overwhelming list, and nearly impossible to provide in the home, but I can assure you that it is possible. You can read about our youngest daughter Phoebe here. We have homeschooled her from the beginning and included all of her therapies including group therapy, adaptive equipment and assistive technology items in our home.
What steps should I take to homeschool my foster child?
If you think homeschooling might be a good option for your foster child, there are a few steps you should take to get the ball rolling:
Talk to your case worker. The case worker makes recommendations about the care of your foster child. They are the person in your home and seeing first hand how your foster child is functioning on a daily basis. Make your case for homeschooling your foster child. A case worker’s agreement will go a long way toward getting an approval.
Talk to the biological parents. Make your case for homeschooling their child. The parents are the ones who still have rights concerning your foster child. If they agree, their agreement will be taken into consideration.
If you state assigns a guardian ad litem (an attorney for the child), talk to them and make your case for homeschooling.
Do I get paid to homeschool a foster child?
No. You will not receive any additional money for homeschooling. In fact, homeschooling will cost you money in curriculum, supplies, co-op classes, and any other additions to the foster child’s education.
Do foster parents have educational rights?
No. Foster parents do not have educational rights or any other rights in regard to the foster child. Read more about this here in my post about the pros and cons of foster care.