Saturday, May 08, 2010

Boarding School for Foster Children

Since I'm a foster parent, this article caught my eye.

State boarding for care children

A new range of Academy boarding schools would be created by a Conservative government to improve the life chances of looked-after children in England.

Mr Gove said he wanted to set up new state-funded academies so that academy providers could open schools with a residential facility "so that children in the greatest need can secure a placement which offers them the very highest standards of education and care".

This idea is a bit horrifying to me, but I find the concept of boarding school appalling anyway. I simply can't imagine why loving parents would send their adolescent or younger children away to school and only see them on occasional weekends and holidays, unless it were for drug treatment or some other psychiatric residential treatment program.

I read a report that the number of children sent to boarding school is booming in the Commonwealth and is seen as a springboard to future success. If you are coming from that perspective, sending foster children away to boarding school would seem magnanimous.

The article mentioned "state funded boarding schools." I'm not clear if that would mean a voucher system for private boarding schools or that the government would actually run the schools. If the government sets up boarding schools for foster children (which sounds suspiciously like orphanages), nothing good will come of it. Years ago when the United States and Canadian governments tried the same tactics with children from Indian reservations, the reports of child abuse were staggering.

I suppose that a motivated foster child might do better academically in a well-run (private) boarding school, away from a negative family environment. But, it still sounds pretty cold and lonely to me.

On the education/parenting continuum, homeschooling is at one end and boarding school is at the other. From where I stand at my end of the continuum, I can't imagine what that would be like. However, in the next few years as my children leave for college, I will get a glimpse of it.



an said...


Nice post and very informative. thanks for the great sharing.

Jennifer said...

I agree with you, it sounds little more than a place to send the "unwanted" children...they would be much better off to find loving families to be supportive to state wards. They need reassurance that they are loved, not to be sent away. These DO sound suspiciously like orphanages!

Anonymous said...

I entirely disagree your evaluation of boarding schools for foster children.

I grew up in foster care starting from the age of 7. Many of the homes I lived in were sometimes worse or almost as abusive as the home I originally came from. By age 14 I had attended over 16 different schools due the unsuccessful "matching" process of identifying a long-term foster family.
As an adolescent "unwanted child", all I wanted was to stay in one place long enough to finish my education and graduate with a high-school diploma. That did not happen because it was entirely impossible as I eventually got lost in the broken system of foster care. I ended up getting my GED and graduating from a prestigious college later on, only because of my personal willpower and determination. I am not the norm of my brothers and sister.

As an alternative for those who weren't lucky enough to have been born to a stable home environment would do comparatively better in an environment that is primarily structured around education, as opposed to being stuck in horrible foster home after foster home.

Clearly the writer of this article is completely disconnected from ugly truths about foster children- who more often than not fall through the cracks in a notoriously broken system.

There are certainly well-meaning families who do in fact positively influence the lives of children growing up in the system. However, the low pay and constant stress that is part of the social worker & foster parenting job RARELY attracts such well-meaning people to provide for these children. Look at the larger picture and do not fear what you clearly have little knowledge about. The foster care system is beyond broken. Though not ideal, boarding schools can at least provide a stable environment that can better equip a child to succeed as adults and contributing members of society.

Thomas said...

Concerns about sending away your child to a boarding school only to see him or her during the weekends are reasonable. However, you have to acknowledge the fact that some parents were sent to the top boarding schools in the nation and grew up fine, which is why they want the same for their children. It is a pretty different way of raising a child, but it is not as alarming as you think it is.

Anonymous said...

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