WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today praised the Department of Education’s response to a call from a bipartisan group of senators to reach out to foster youth about available college aid and other resources that could help them succeed.

“Foster youth often don’t know about the resources available to them,” Grassley said.  “As a result, the kids don’t take advantage of an educational program or other opportunity that might make a difference in their lives.  The Department of Education is taking steps to reach out to foster kids and inform them about existing resources that might help them get to college.  I’m glad to see this effort.” 

Last month, Grassley and his fellow senators wrote to the secretaries of the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to seek a coordinated informative effort.  The senators noted that only three percent of foster youth graduate from college.  Nearly 400,000 children are in the foster system due to abuse or neglect; every year more than 23,000 of those children age out of the system with no place to call home.

Grassley is founder and co-chair of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth and a senior member and former chairman and former ranking member of the Finance Committee, with jurisdiction over foster care programs.  He has a long record of improving policies to help foster youth and promote adoption, including authoring the 2008 Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act. Foster youth often face multiple school placements once in the child welfare system.   Research has demonstrated that instability and multiple placements have a negative effect on academic achievement and are associated with high rates of children and youth dropping out of school.  The 2008 law requires child welfare and educational agencies to work together to ensure educational stability for foster youth.

The senators’ letter to the agencies is available here.  The Department of Education’s response is available here.