The ABA urged the Department of Education to provide guidance and support for state and local education agencies to ensure effective collaboration with child welfare agencies as they implement provisions regarding students in foster care that are included in P.L. 114-95, education legislation signed Dec. 10 by the president.
“For the first time, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) now contains key protections for students in foster care to promote school stability and success, and requires education agencies to collaborate with child welfare partners,” the association said in comments submitted Jan. 21 to the department.
The comments explained that the dual-agency responsibility for the educational success of students in foster care and the tight timelines for the foster care provisions of the law make it critical that state and local education and child welfare agencies receive prompt information and support toward implementation.
The comments urge that several areas be addressed: definitions of “school of origin” and “child in foster care”; clarification regarding state education agency point of contact for students in foster care; and creation of a process to ensure that every local education agency has procedures to support school stability and continuity for students in foster care.
The ABA pointed out that a key protection under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act will expire in December 2016 that is available in some states under the definition of “awaiting foster care placement.” That protection has allowed the McKinney-Vento act to assist many students in foster care for more than 10 years with services that have included providing transportation to ensure school stability. The expiration of this protection makes it urgent that the guidance for children in foster care be included in the first set of regulations, according to the comments.
The association emphasized the need for child welfare agencies to develop a process for sharing timely and accurate information about students in foster care to state education agencies.