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Human Services


Kelly R. Chermack


Children in foster care face multiple barriers compared to their nonfoster peers, especially as it pertains to their educational success. The problem was school administrators, such as principals and assistant principals, face greater challenges in meeting the educational needs of foster children in addition to balancing the extraneous issues foster children face. Using Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory, the purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore the experiences, perceptions, and challenges of elementary school administrators who work with foster youth in one school district in Illinois. The specific focus was on administrators’ role in curriculum design, support services, and ability to address behavioral issues in the school setting. After COVID-19 pandemic related modifications were made to the data collection method, interview questions were sent out electronically to elementary school principals and assistant principals within one school district in Illinois. Using open and priori coding techniques, the data were analyzed for trends and patterns and five themes emerged. These themes were (a) needs/barriers around support within the student experience, (b) general and instructional challenges facing school administration, (c) collaboration and the impact on student experiences, (d) support services/resources impacting student and teacher, and (e) changes needed to serve foster students in the educational setting. The data derived from this study will be used to inform practice for child welfare and educational staff, to aid in the development of specific educational service plans, and to promote awareness of environmental and demographic components as it pertains to elementary foster students.

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