Behavior Problems and Educational Disruptions Among Children in Out-of-Home Care in Chicago
Cheryl Smithgall, Robert Matthew Gladden, Duck-Hye Yang, Robert M. Goerge2005
By comparing the demographic, placement, and educational experiences of students in foster care classified with an Emotional Disturbance (ED) with students in care with other special education classifications and with Chicago Public School students with ED who are not in care, this study explored the intersection of placement in foster care and the ED classification. The mixed-method study combined analyses of administrative data and interviews with caseworkers, special education staff, foster parents, probation officers, and mental health professionals. Study findings reveal a complex set of trends contributing to the overrepresentation of children in care among students with ED classifications: these children receive an ED classification after entering foster care at higher rates than other children, and children with ED classifications transition into permanent placements at lower rates than other students in care, even those with non-ED special education classifications. Analyses also revealed that a significant proportion of children classified as ED continue to display serious behavioral problems at school after receiving a special education classification. It is critical that both the education and child welfare systems work to identify problems early in a child's educational career. Furthermore, interventions must address not just the problematic behaviors but also the core problems underlying these children's behavioral issues.