Fostering success: young people’s experience of education while in foster care

Hannah Miller, Roseanna Bourke & Vijaya Dharan - International Journal of Inclusive Education


All children have the right to an education and a voice, to be heard and to influence aspects of their lives and their education. Children and young people in foster care face unique and often challenging experiences that can make them vulnerable to having these basic rights eroded. This paper presents the findings from an in-depth study exploring the educational experiences and self-determined educational successes of young people who spent time in foster care in New Zealand. Findings from semi-structured interviews with seven young people reflected broad and holistic experiences of educational success. Relationships with teachers, foster caregivers and friends were key supports to success, along with having a voice, influence over decisions and having an advocate. Young people demonstrated marked resilience throughout the challenges they faced, which was both supportive to success, and a success in itself. Given the unique life experiences of children and young people in foster care, there is an imperative to create space for their voices to determine and define what educational success means. They need their rights to share these perspectives to enhance their own educational experiences, and to influence both the policy and practice agendas around foster care and education.