There are approximately half million
children and youth experiencing foster care in the United States. Taken from
their families because they have experienced abuse or neglect, these children
are bounced from home to home and school to school. Frequently without the
proper on-going educational supports that begin as soon as they enter the
public foster care system, their outcomes are heartbreakingly poor. Communities
across America desperately need improved strategies to better serve this
population of vulnerable youngsters.
Birdsong Farm Education Center seeks to
change these dismal realities by fostering education innovation which ensures children and youth placed in
our child welfare system receive the year-round educational opportunities,
supports and services they need to succeed in school.
Recent studies have found that students placed in foster care have some of
the poorest educational outcomes of any group of learners nationwide: they are
more likely to perform below grade level, to have been held back, to drop out
of high school and to have higher rates of absenteeism and disciplinary
referrals than their peers.
In addition, nearly
25,000 young Americans "age out" of our public foster care system alone and at
risk for homelessness, unemployment, incarceration, teen parenting, lives of
poverty and the recipients of public assistance.
Mounting evidence shows that all students - no matter their
background or circumstances - can excel under the right conditions. Birdsong
Farm is creating these conditions. Our goals are to attract and retain great
foster care competent teachers, develop best practice models for educating
students placed in foster care and provide students with a dynamic hands-on
curriculum all year long.
Farm is committed to being a catalyst for the critical changes our education system
needs to better serve our nation's children in foster care.
Birdsong Farm Mission:
mission is to harness the power of year-round experiential learning to raise
the educational achievement levels of students who have experienced foster care.
Birdsong Farm Vision:
One day all
children and youth who have been removed from their homes and placed in foster
care will have access to high quality, year-round learning experiences which
help them achieve mastery in core subjects, stimulate their hopes and dreams
for the future, And help
them develop as lifelong learners, citizens and leaders.
Common educational challenges facing foster youth:
- Enrollment in school
- Failure to receive transportation
- Lack of academic planning
- Missing records or credits
- Need for supplementary education services
- Poor grades or attendance
- Post-secondary planning and preparation
- School discipline issues
- Unmet special education needs
Our Approach: The Birdsong Farm Approach is to give every child in America
who has experienced foster care a chance to succeed. To accomplish this we
Visionary leadership. Visionary leadership from all Birdsong Farm partners provide
the framework for year-round success, so that every child at Birdsong Farm can excel.
A Trauma Informed Learning Community. Research shows that having excellent
teachers three years in a row can help overcome the effects of poverty - the
root cause of foster care. For students with trauma histories, having great
teachers who are trauma competent is critical as well.
At Birdsong Farm teachers are trauma
informed. They support year-round learning in hands-on classrooms: barns,
gardens, farm stands, indoor riding rings, horse stalls, product kitchens &
An environment that fosters excellence & increases
To transform educational outcomes for our
nation's youngsters placed in foster care, we need many pieces to come together
to form compelling new approaches.
Birdsong Farm is purposefully building an
integrated network of collaborators who leverage their expertise and resources
to build a Hub of Education Innovation.