On Monday, January 4, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education’s (DOE) Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) issued a letter regarding State Educational Agencies (SEAs) responsibilities in supporting students in foster care.
In acknowledging that during the pandemic students and families have been challenged over the past nine months, the Director stated that students involved in the child welfare system are disproportionately impacted by the changes to the educational systems.
The letter stated the following:
“The U.S. Department of Education remains committed to supporting your efforts to ensure that students in foster care are afforded the rights and protections guaranteed under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). As you know, under the ESEA, each SEA must:
- Designate a staff member to serve as the State’s foster care point of contact, who is responsible for both ongoing collaboration with the State’s child welfare agency and implementation of the ESEA’s foster care requirements.
- Collaborate with State child welfare agencies to ensure that students in foster care remain in their respective “schools of origin” unless a determination is made that attending a school of origin is not in the best interest of a student.
- Ensure that, when a school change is warranted, students in foster care are immediately enrolled in their new schools, even if they cannot produce enrollment documents and school records normally required for enrollment.
- Ensure that local education and child welfare agencies collaborate to implement written procedures governing how transportation to schools of origin will be provided, arranged, and funded for the duration of a student’s time in foster care.
- Report (annually) on student achievement and graduation rates for students in foster care.”
In addition, OESE shared the website of the Department’s resources related to students in foster care. It can be assessed here.