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The vigilante accused of holding migrants at border to appear in court today. Also on our Monday rundown: The US Supreme Court takes up including citizenship questions on the next census this week. Plus, Earth Day finds oceans becoming plastic soup.

Daily Newscasts

Congress Looks to WA to Help Foster Kids in School

October 18, 2011

SEATTLE - Foster children fall behind their peers in school in many cases, and it can be difficult for them to catch up academically. A U.S. Senate committee considers that topic today. On Wednesday, advocates for foster children are having a national online discussion of ideas, and they're looking to the State of Washington for some of them.

Phoebe Sade Anderson, associate director of programs with the Seattle group Treehouse for Kids, says state law mandates that the Children's Administration work with school districts to provide as much stability for foster kids as possible.

"When a child enters foster care, the child must remain in their school of origin whenever possible and in their best interest. And that was the first time the state said, 'This is important, and we are going to start really looking and monitoring, and making sure that kids are not moving as much as they have been.'"

Daniel Heimple, project director with Fostering Media Connections, the group hosting the online national town hall, says foster kids can't count on staying in one home, which is one of many factors that can hold them back academically.

"The trauma they may have endured as well, as they move from home to home and bounce from school district to school district, and can't form a stable school environment; that hurts their education."

Despite Washington's progress, Anderson says more can be done. The high school graduation rate for foster kids in the state is about twice that of the general school population.

"You're talking about kids with a lot of trauma in their histories, who have a very hard time functioning. It's a really difficult system for a young person to be involved in, and it's also really difficult for us to expect them to be thriving students without additional supports and attention."

Anderson says Washington also has a network of privately-funded groups working to help foster families. There are about 11,000 children in foster care in Washington.

The Senate committee is considering updates to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, including national guidelines for faster and smoother transitions when foster children have to change schools.

The online discussion is Wednesday, Oct. 19, beginning at noon Pacific time, at

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA