On March 9, 2017, the U.S. Senate voted to overturn the Every Student Succeeds Act Accountability Regulations, which included a variety of important provisions for vulnerable students, including students in foster care. The U.S. House voted to overturn the regulations on February 7. This action is permitted under the Congressional Review Act. On March 27, President Trump signed the bills passed in Congress. Despite this recent repeal of the Accountability Regulations of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the foster care provisions and the corresponding timelines are not impacted by the changes to the regulations and remain in effect. The foster care provisions of the law went into effect December 10, 2016.
Specifically, the ESSA statute includes that children should remain in the same school when it is in the child's best interest; children in foster care can enroll immediately in a new school even if the child cannot produce normally required enrollment documents and school records; and local education and child welfare agencies must collaborate. The local education agencies must include in their Local Title I Plans, assurances that they have developed and implemented clear written procedures governing how transportation to ensure school stability will be provided, arranged, and funded for the duration of the children's time in foster care. Additionally, every State Education Agency must designate an employee to serve as a point of contact for child welfare agencies and to oversee implementation of the foster care provisions of the ESSA. The point person must be someone other than the state's McKinney-Vento Act Coordinator. The Local Education Agency (LEAs) (typically a school district, but it could also be a charter school or other LEA) must include in their Local Title I Plans assurances that they will collaborate with local child welfare agencies and that, when a child welfare agency notifies the LEA that it has a point of contact for the education of children in foster care, the LEA must designate a similar point of contact. For the first time, State Educational Agencies are required to report annually on student achievement and graduation rates for students in foster care.
For a variety of tools designed to support states in effectively implementing the foster care provisions of the law, please see the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education's State Implementation Toolkit.