Texas Supreme Court advisory

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Friday, May 21, 2010

In an order posted Friday, the Supreme Court of Texas has established a committee to examine how to improve education for foster children, who grapple with lower school achievement, higher high-school dropout rates and lower test scores than schoolchildren as a whole.

The 13-member committee will work under the Court’s Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families, which was created in 2007 to help courts improve outcomes for those caught n the child-protection system. District Judge Patricia Macias of El Paso will serve as committee chair.

The Court’s order charges the committee with identifying and assessing challenges to educational success of children and youth in foster care, identifying and recommending judicial practices to help achieve better educational outcomes, and seeking to improve collaboration, communication and court practice through partnerships with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the Texas education system and others working in education and child-protection.

“Far too many foster youth slip through the educational cracks,” said Justice Harriet O’Neill, chair of the Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families. “Judges are in a unique position to ask the right questions, convene the necessary stakeholders and recommend practices that will help these kids succeed in school and beyond.”

In its order the Court cites findings by the American Bar Association’s Legal Center for Foster Care and Education showing foster children as a whole are more mobile and suffer academically because of it.

The committee will issue a final report with recommendations no later than March 31, 2012, which will follow a schedule for interim reports due at the end of December and again at the end of August 2011.