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This study captures the voices of school-based behavioral specialists who are employed across the state of Michigan to share how well schools and child welfare agencies communicate and collaborate to address the educational well-being of foster care children on their caseloads. This includes knowledge of federal policies and how they support and hinder communication across systems. Participants included a total of 249 K-12 employed school psychologists, counselors, and social workers. Survey methodology was used and both inferential and narrative analyses revealed that these school practitioners were highly unaware of how to identify the foster care children in their schools, and what supports they need. The three groups of school-based professionals were similarly unaware, minimal communication is occurring with outside agencies, and they largely do not take initiative in reaching out to communicate and collaborate with community-based agencies outside the school. Despite that, collectively, the work of child welfare and education professionals could have a substantial impact on retention and the overall student performance of children who are living in out of home care. Implications of this lack communication and awareness are discussed. Recommendations to guide a national research agenda for advocacy and policy efforts are also identified.


Social Work


This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Children and Schools following peer review. The version of record Day, A., Somers, C., Smith-Darden, J. & Yoon, J. (In Press). Developing cross-system communication to promote educational well-being in foster care youth: Recommendations for a national research, practice, and policy agenda. Children and Schools. is available online at:

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