November 16, 2017

Education Access for Homeless & Foster Youth

AUGUST 2004

RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association supports uninterrupted educational access and stability for homeless children and youth as well as children and youth placed by public agencies in out-of-home settings

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges the United States Department of Education to provide an interpretation of "awaiting foster care placement" under Subtitle VII-B of the McKinney-Vento Act (42 U.S.C. §§11431 et seq.) that will include children and youth placed by public agencies in interim, emergency, or short-term placements to assure such children and youth in temporary out-of-home settings have uninterrupted educational access.

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges the United States Congress to enact legislation amending the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the United States Department of Education to promulgate regulations to ensure that children and youth with disabilities, including both homeless children and youth as well as children and youth who are in public agency custody, have prompt access to appropriate special education and related services.

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges the United States Congress and the Department of Education, and state and local education agencies, to:

a) Implement recommendations from the 2003 White House Task Force for Disadvantaged Youth (1) to improve the quality of education for children and youth who are in public agency custody; (2) to establish a federal advocate and interagency committee on the demonstration programs and interagency collaborations on improving school access for these children and youth;

b) Improve "child find", expedited assessments and appropriate special education services for children and youth with disabilities who are homeless or are in public agency custody, both in child welfare and juvenile justice custody, and enhance the prompt assignment of "surrogate parents" (which may include suitable foster parents), where appropriate, appointed under the IDEA to protect the student's educational rights; and

c) Enforce federal law, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §675(1)(c), that encourages child welfare agencies to give adults caring for children and youth in out-of-home settings up-to-date educational records on those in their care, when available, and that encourages each case plan to include names and addresses of educational providers, grade level performance, the school record, and any other relevant education information, and that encourages each case plan takes into account proximity to the school in which the students were enrolled at the time of placement.

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges lawyers, judges and leader of the organized bar to seek changes in law, policy, and practice that will help remove the impediments to the uninterrupted educational access of children and youth who are homeless as well as children and youth in residential, foster, and kinship care, and will help assure prompt provision of appropriate education services, including special education services where needed. These legal system professionals should work closely with state and local education agencies to help assure that policies promote, rather than inhibit, such uninterrupted educational access.