CWLA submitted comments to the Department of Education on proposed regulations of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) before the due date of Monday, August 1. The Proposed regulations,  which garnered more than 20,000 comments,  implement Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), focused generally on the broader accountability requirements in ESSA but in some areas the proposed regulations include new data and other requirements for students in foster care, homeless children and other vulnerable subgroups of children.

Echoing the comments of child welfare and education coalitions, CWLA President and CEO Chris James-Brown stated in the letter:

“Since 2008 implementing those guarantees

[enacted through the 2008 Fostering Connections to Success Act] has not always functioned in the way it was intended.  We believe the changes enacted with the reauthorization of the ESEA can help assure these education rights and can facilitate greater coordination between education and child welfare.  These new regulations can reinforce these new provisions.”

Among the issues commented on was support for greater data through education on graduation rates and student achievement for children and youth in foster care.  The letter also addresses the transportation issue, a challenge that can sometimes be an unnecessary barrier for children and youth in foster care.  In instances when a child is placed away from their neighborhood due to the location of the best foster care placements, continuing in the same school may require special transportation needs not address by the school systems regular bus and transportation routes.

The new education language directs education agencies to be a part of a collaboration to develop transportation solutions including who will cover the cost of that transportations.  Echoing other child welfare advocates, the CWLA letter endorsed some of the proposed regulation:

…Additional costs incurred to provide transportation will be paid for by the LEA or local child welfare agency or shared by the two agencies, with any payment disputes resolved in accordance with policies or mechanisms established by the SEA in collaboration with the State Child Welfare Agency. The LEA must provide or arrange for adequate and appropriate transportation to and from the school of origin while any disputes are being resolved.

And proposed a strengthening by adding….

This transportation must be provided without delay to assure the student’s attendance at school will not be interrupted due to any such disputes.”