Improving Outcomes for Former Foster Children – MMHPI – Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute
projectsImproving Outcomes for Former Foster Children

Improving Outcomes for Former Foster Children

SUMMARY – Young people formerly in foster care are diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at four times the rate of the general adult population and often struggle in school. The Meadows Institute worked to address the intersection of mental health and educational and vocational attainment for these important young Texans.


High school graduation rate of youth in foster care*


Percentage of youth in foster care who receive any type of college degree**

*Texas Education Agency , ** Watt, T., Faulkner, M., Bustillos, S., & Madden, E. (2019)

Project Details

With the support of the Center for Socioeconomic Mobility through Education (CSME) at the University of North Texas – Dallas, the Meadows Institute conducted an analysis of national research related to young people currently or formerly in foster care and their overall health and educational achievement. To further inform our analysis, the Institute conducted interviews and focus groups with more than 70 stakeholders, many of whom were young people formerly in foster care.

Using the information gleaned through our analysis, the Institute developed a set of policy recommendations that would position institutions of higher education to meet the unique needs of their students formerly in foster care. Additionally, the Institute developed a framework for higher education institutions that highlights key components necessary to support the mental health, wellbeing, and educational success of young people transitioning out of foster care.

As part of this project, the Institute supported CSME in creating and convening a “Core Team” of 11 educational, mental health, and foster care leaders in the Dallas area who advise on and initiate concrete actions to improve outcomes for youth transitioning out of foster care.

The partnership with CSME strengthened existing resources and identified much-needed areas of growth. As a result of this work, new and formalized pathways to improve mobility and mental health were created for young people formerly in foster care who want to pursue postsecondary education.

At the end of the project, the Institute identified ways this initiative could be replicated in other areas of Texas to further increase and expand the student support services available to youth transitioning out of foster care and into higher education. By helping connect community resources and exploring ways to maximize public funds and impact, we’re offering data-driven solutions to support the wellbeing of students who were formerly in foster care.

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