• child welfare;
  • foster care;
  • education;
  • cohort study

We used national register data for nearly 800,000 Swedish-born young people in eight national birth cohorts to examine educational attainments of former child welfare clients. A total of 31,355 former child welfare clients were compared with 744,425 majority population peers. Logistic regression models were used to estimate risks of having only a basic education at time of follow-up, and of chances of having a post-secondary education. Odds ratios for core results were recalculated into relative risks.

Compared with majority population peers with low educated mothers, children who experienced interventions before ado-lescence, or had been in long-term stable foster care, had a two- to threefold elevated relative risk of entering adult life with only a compulsory education. Youths who experienced intervention during adolescence had approximately a fourfold risk of having only basic education at the time of follow-up. Majority population peers with low educated mothers were between two and six times more likely to have a post-secondary degree when compared with former child welfare clients.