Tara Pavao

2008 Public Policy Summer Fellow

May 1, 2008
Graduate Degree:Suffolk University
Undergraduate Degree:Bridgewater State University
Areas of interest:Social Services
Mentor:Tiziana Dearing, President, Catholic Charities of Boston
Agency:Department of Social Services
Supervisors:Leslie Akula, Director of Policy Support, Susan Stelk, Education Director, and Donna Reulback, Assistant Commissioner for Practice and Policy
Project Description:Tara worked within the Policy Department at the Department of Children and Families. Her project was to research the education of foster care youth and further analyze if there is a disconnect in their educational continuity. As children enter foster care or are required to transition from foster home to foster home, they often have to transfer schools and register within their new school districts. In her years of experience as a social worker for the Commonwealth, there were times when children transferred to as many as three different schools within a single school year. As she researched further into this issue, she set forth to answer three questions: Are foster care youth graduating at the same rate as the general public? Does educational continuity contribute to a foster care youth’s academic success? Is it a cost benefit to transport foster care youth to their school of origin? The findings of her research conclude that foster care youth are not graduating at the rate of normalcy, as foster care students are about half as likely as other students to have graduated from high school. Educational continuity and school stability does promote successful school experiences and contribute to positive youth development. Finally, with interagency collaborations between the Department of Children and Families, Department of Transitional Assistance, and the Department of Education, social benefits outweigh the costs of transporting foster care youth to their school of origin under the McKinney-Vento Act.