December 01, 2015

President signs education reform bill that includes attention to homeless and foster children

Legislation signed Dec. 10 by President Obama replaces the 2007 No Child Left Behind Act and includes provisions supported by the ABA to address the special needs of homeless and foster children in the education system.

P.L. 114-95 (S. 1177) helps promote school stability and success for students in foster care by including provisions supported by the ABA that were in the Senate version of the legislation:

• ensuring students can remain in their same school when they enter foster care and change foster care placements, unless it is not in their best interest;

• enrolling students in foster care immediately in a new school when a school change is necessary without the typically required records;

• facilitating the prompt transfer of records when a child in foster care enters a new school;

• requiring school districts and child welfare agencies to have reciprocal points of contact for students in foster care, and both systems have a point of contact for them at the state level;

• requiring local education and child welfare agencies to collaborate to develop and implement a plan for transportation when needed to keep students in foster care in their school of origin; and

• improving the collection of data, particularly high school graduation rates, on the success of children in foster care to keep abreast of their progress.

Additional provisions require state and local education agencies to ensure that their plans under the act promote identification, enrollment, attendance and school stability for youth experiencing homelessness and require local education agencies to reserve a portion of their education funding to support homeless children.

The ABA maintains that the improvements in the law will help prevent students in foster care and homeless students from needlessly changing schools, will keep them from falling further behind in their education with each move, and prevent overburdening of school systems serving both of these groups.     

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