Panel G.01 — Adoption and Foster Care: Analysis, Reflections and Best practice on Equality and Social Justice at School and in the Educational System

Convenors Alessia Tabacchi (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano); Anna Guerrieri (Università degli Studi dell’Aquila); Caterina Balenzano (Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro); Monya Ferritti (Inapp, Roma)

Keywords Adoption and Foster Care, School and Educational System, Equity, Inclusion, Stereotypes


Adoption and foster care are institutions designed to provide children with a family environment and a positive context for growth (Law 184/1983). Research shows that the placement of the child in adoptive families or foster care is a measure of protection and recovery. In particular, several comparative studies analyse the development of children who have been adopted or are in foster care and the development of children who are growing up in institutional care (Juffer, van IJzendoorn, 2007). For those placed in families, there is considerable progress and an extraordinary ability to cope with unfavourable early experiences.

While numerous studies have investigated the behavioural and emotional adjustment of children in foster care and adoption, little is known about their educational needs and paths (Stother at al., 2019). International research identifies the potential vulnerability of these children in terms of learning, especially in unsupportive and less responsive school contexts (Coggi, Ricchiardi, 2016; Sempowicz et al., 2018; Dalen, Theie, 2019; Dalenat al., 2020; Glennen, 2021). At the same time, children frequently experience developmental delays because of early adverse circumstances and long periods of institutionalisation (Lauretti, 2020; Harwood et al., 2013).

The scientific literature also notes how frequently children in foster care and adoption incur episodes of discrimination and microaggression (Ferritti, Guerrieri, 2019, 2020; Baden, 2016; Garber, Grotevant, 2015; Sue et al., 2007), which in turn can cause marginalisation (Migliarini, Stinson, D’Alessio 2019), educational failures (Ferritti et al., 2019, 2020, 2021; Ferritti, 2023) and social exclusion (Morgan, Langrehr, 2019). This suggests that the overall Italian school system is often unsupportive and little inclusive, and is poorly equipped to cope with the students’ educational special needs, and favour their inclusion and achievement by a ‘student-centered approach’ (Balenzano, 2023). However, adjustment and social inclusion are linked to the capacity of the local community and school to welcome children and promote their aspirations, significantly affecting their identity (Sempowicz et al., 2018).

The panel’s purpose is to deepen the theme of equality and social justice in the educational system from a multidisciplinary perspective and to explore best practices for facing inequality, stigma, and educational poverty. It is proposed to dwell on some elements that can offer stimuli to start a process of analysis and deconstruction of reality and start new narratives and cultural perspectives.

The scientific community can engage in discussion and dialogue through the following questions:

What are the conditions that today favour full inclusion and equity in the processes of growth and education of children in adoption or foster care?

What training is best for professionals and people involved in the education of children in adoption or foster care?

What proposals can be made to plan an educational system that meets the educational needs of children in foster care and adoption?

What are the prevalent models of science dissemination and which stereotypes and biassed discourses may still be found in formal, non-formal, and informal education science fields (Schools, Services, public consensus) about adoption and foster care?


Guidelines and abstracts submission