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Fostering Opportunities

Improving Educational Outcomes for Youth in Foster Care

A college age male student in a denim jacket reading a book at the library

Project Summary

Only one in four Colorado students who experience foster care during high school graduate with their class. Jeffco Public Schools and Jefferson County Human Services developed a solution—the Fostering Opportunities program. This innovative student engagement intervention is the first proven practice in Colorado to improve educational outcomes for students in foster care.  It was developed and tested through the first State-funded Pay for Success Project in Colorado (HB18-1323).

The Foster Care Success Act (HB22-1374) scaled Fostering Opportunities to three school districts. The Colorado Lab is providing implementation science support to help school districts deliver the model with fidelity. Then, the Lab will re-evaluate the program’s effectiveness to ensure it works as expected implemented in additional school districts.

Upcoming deliverables include:

  • Fidelity of Implementation Tools
  • Fostering Opportunities Program Manual Version 2.0
  • A Plan for Ongoing Evaluation of the Program

Steps to Building Evidence

This project spans all five steps of evidence-building, from program design (Step 1 on the Steps to Building Evidence) through a Randomized Controlled Trial (Step 5). Scaling the program provides the opportunity to return our focus to improving program design and delivering it with fidelity (Step 1 and Step 2).


An audit of the State Foster Care Education program revealed the need to accelerate progress on improving educational outcomes for youth in foster care. Learnings from this project provided the best-available research evidence on how to help students reach the goal of earning a high school credential. The Colorado General Assembly resourced scaling Fostering Opportunities through HB22-1374 and required ongoing evaluation and data sharing to monitor progress.

Summary of Findings

Final evaluation findings also show:

  • Students passed their academic courses at a higher rate within two years of having access to the program.
  • Statistically significant gains in student attendance rates.
  • A statistically significant decrease in the number of student suspensions within one year of having access to the program.

More research is needed to determine whether Fostering Opportunities impacts high school graduation as there were not enough students in the study to make a causal attribution. Descriptive results do suggest that within one year, there was a 51% increase in the number of high school students who were on track to graduate.

Get Involved

For more information about working with the Colorado Lab, see Government and Community Partnerships or Research Partnerships.