foster children, virtual tutoring, service learning, academic skills, reading, educational outcomes


Professional literature presents evidence that foster care agencies, foster parents, and educators are unprepared to meet the distinctive educational needs of foster youth. Although there is a general lack of evidence on specific interventions developed for foster youth, some studies have addressed the impact of tutoring. This paper studies the impact of a pilot program that paired 15 teacher candidates with 15 foster youth for virtual reading tutoring as part of a college course. Data were collected from youth, parents, and teacher candidates through surveys and focus groups. The results of this study suggested that the tutoring relationship produced several academic and emotional benefits for both foster youth and tutors. Participants all saw evidence of increases in the tutees’ skill level and content knowledge, and tutors overwhelmingly reported feelings of fulfillment. The establishment of a strong, supportive relationship between tutor and tutee was also seen as a primary factor in success. Finally, the study presented evidence that diverse instructional resources and methods are important for youth engagement and that tutors need in-depth, thorough training on how to locate and properly use these types of resources. Suggestions for future research are proposed.