Date of Award


Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Rebecca Herr Stephenson

Second Advisor

Jennifer Belichesky-Larson

Third Advisor

William Parham


According to data published in 2018, approximately 20,000 children resided in group homes across the United States. By the nature of their situations, living outside of their familial homes, these children are experiencing trauma while trying to participate in typical childhood activities, such as making friends and attending school. Children who reside in group homes are foster youth. Foster youth consistently show low levels of academic achievement (Vacca, 2008). Children who reside in group homes have many service providers that are responsible for their care, including teachers, social workers, therapists, group home staff; these people make up the child’s circle of care. The purpose of this study was to explore how the service professionals within the circle of care support the academic development of students who reside in group homes and how existing strategies can be improved. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews and analyzed using thematic analysis. Weick’s (1976) concept of loosely coupled systems in education was used to theorize the connections between service providers and identify opportunities for improved collaboration. Results showed that all members of the circle of care need to work together more closely to appropriately support these students, especially those members who work for the group homes and the schools. All members of the circle of care need more training in trauma informed care and the laws that allocate resources and direct the care for children who reside in group homes.

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