That Stupid Foster Policy: No Homeschooling

You know it…that really stupid policy that says we can’t homeschool our foster kids. We’ve seen the online battles between foster parents with differing opinions. We’ve heard all the reasons why children should or should not attend public or homeschool. I get it. I have no judgment either way.

However, I would like to add three major reasons why this policy isn’t so stupid.

1. Policy is in place because people cause policy to be put into place.

Many moons ago, children in foster care had very few policies in place for their care. One of them was schooling. Children in care could be homeschooled and case workers were not quite as visible as they are these days. This led to children being abused in foster care in conjunction with being cut off from society. There was no one they could talk with to seek help. When the powers that be found enough of these cases, policy was put in place and public school became the expectation. So thank the abusive, jerk fosterers who came before us for the number one reason for this policy.

So we are clear, I understand that some children in care would be better served in a homeschool situation. I cannot disagree with that. In very rare situations, homeschool can be approved by the courts. But, I wouldn’t count on it.

2. The goal of foster care is always reunification, until it isn’t. With reunification in mind, children in foster care need to develop trusting relationships with many adults. A teacher, school nurse, school social worker, principal, coach or custodian could be a trusted adult for a child in school. We want to empower our children to have the courage to tell these trusted adults if something is going on at home that is causing them to be unsafe. They need this support system when they return home. Though few fellow fosterers want to hear this, it’s also another reason why it’s better for children to remain in the same school they attended before removal. Imagine what a strong support system they would have attending the same school with trusted adults who know their story and who will absolutely keep an eye on them when they return home.

3. Many times, the children in care have more significant needs than the average child. The school is responsible for specialized testing, accountability for a child’s progress and the overall educational well-being of the child. When we consider homeschooling children in foster care, we take on a huge responsibility and liability for their education. Foster families face enough responsibility and liability as it is. This doesn’t mean you can’t enrich and supplement their education at home. Have at it! Erupt volcanos.  Go fossil hunting.  Watch the eclipse (if anyone says eclipse one more time…Lord help me.) From one fosterer to another, you have plenty of liability already. For the love of coffee and scones, DO NOT add more to your plate.

So my friends, do I think many children in foster care could benefit from homeschooling? Absolutely. I think many, many children in general could benefit from homeschooling. However, thanks to the dingalings that screwed it up for us years ago, this isn’t going to be happening anytime soon.

As always, there are exceptions to every policy if you have enough evidence and determination to make something happen. If you have an isolated case and you know this is truly what your child needs, by all means, fight like scrappy hellcat.

For most fosterers wishing to homeschool, we just have to suck up our pride and do what we need to do for the overall well-being of the child. For most children, that means loving them, feeding them, nurturing them, teaching them what we can at home AND allowing others to teach and love and nurture them at school while building rock solid relationships and trust.


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