Families & the Community

Adopted Children in Specialty Schools

By Christina A. Samuels — August 07, 2008 1 min read

Back in June, I wrote a blog entry about an Arizona appeals court halting a voucher program for students with disabilities and students in foster care. At the time, I wrote that I understood why people might support a voucher program for students with special needs, but I was a bit more skeptical that foster children have the same need for special schools.

This Houston Chronicle article, however, outlines some of the educational difficulties faced by children who are adopted, and I would imagine that children in foster care might have some of the same challenges.

Because of abuse, genetic issues and a lack of prenatal care, adoptive children are much more likely to struggle with learning disabilities, prompting their families to leave public schools in search of the extra help offered by often costly specialty schools. While adoptive children account for 1 percent to 2 percent of the population, higher rates can be found in almost every mental health setting, including residential facilities and public school special education programs.

Dan Lips, a senior policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation, wrote a paper a year ago (before the Arizona program was stopped) talking about the need for such vouchers.

I’m still left wondering if foster care -- or adoption, as this story outlines -- is the issue. The children don’t need extra help because they are adopted; they need extra help because they have special education needs. If you support vouchers, wouldn’t a voucher program for students with disabilities cover these kids too?

A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.