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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Washington tries to help foster children graduate on time

OLYMPIA – Children in foster care may have a better chance of obtaining a high school diploma under a new law that requires schools to come up with ways to help them graduate on time.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that requires schools to either waive a specific course or provide an alternative way of doing the coursework so foster children can stay on track for graduation. Students who weren’t able to finish a course and receive full credit because they had to withdraw or transfer to another school, must be given partial credit, and that partial credit can be consolidated in a way that eliminates academic barriers for the student.

“This is not all we have to do for foster kids in this state, but it’s a start,” Inslee said in signing the bill that passed both houses unanimously.

Data from the Department of Social and Health Services says the state currently has about 9,000 children in foster care, with 920 in Spokane County. Trent Freeman, a spokesman for Treehouse, a nonprofit that works with foster children in Seattle, said the typical child in foster care changes placements three times, and with each change loses four to six months of academic progress.