Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Date Available


Degree Name

Master of Public Administration

Committee Chair

Dr. Eugenia Toma

Committee Member

Dr. Rhonda Trautman

Committee Member

Dr. Cory Curl

Executive Summary

The state of Kentucky has seen an increase in its population of youth who are involved with child welfare and in the foster care system while also seeing less cases end in reunification with families. While youth process trauma related to the removal from their homes and the potential of experiencing multiple moves through their time with child welfare, it is important that educational stability remain intact to promote normalcy and improve educational outcomes for youth in foster care. Following the signing of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the Kentucky education system has seen improvement in its processes that help ensure education stability to those students experiencing foster care. This study conducts a crosssectional analysis of standardized testing performance across multiple districts, with varying foster youth populations and mean household incomes for the county the district is in, to establish patterns of academic performance for youth in foster care. Following this study, findings suggest that in the districts observed, there are patterns of higher performance from elementary level youth in foster care and smaller gaps in performance when compared to non-foster youth when the school district has a smaller foster youth census. Past this stage you see poorer performance by foster youth across all districts but see better performance in districts with a higher percentage of the student population being in foster care.