Legal Center for Foster Care and Education (www.fostercareandeducation.org) has vigorously advocated for effective implementation of the Fostering Connections Act since its passage in 2008. To that end, we have provided technical assistance at the federal, state, and local levels, including informing leadership and promoting critical interagency collaboration to ensure school stability and immediate enrollment.
On May 30th, the Administration took a critically important step in effective implementation of the school stability provisions of the Act: the United States Departments of Education and Health and Human Services have just released a joint letter to state child welfare and education agencies, that includes these important messages:
1) Clarifies that the obligation to ensure school stability in the Fostering Connections Act applies to local education agencies as well as child welfare agencies;
2) Asks state education agencies to remind local education agencies of these specific and important obligations;
3) Emphasizes the critical importance for States and localities to raise awareness of efforts and progress toward improving the educational outcomes and well-being of children in foster care; and
4) Urges child welfare and education agencies to work together this summer to develop policies and procedures that ensure both educational stability and the appropriate, immediate enrollment of all school-aged children in foster care in the upcoming school year.
This clarification about the mutual obligations shared by education and child welfare agencies is vital to the educational success of children in foster care. We know that much work remains at the state and local level to use this guidance to support successful outcomes for children. The Legal Center for Foster Care and Education is available as a resource to assist you in those efforts. We have examples of best practices and tools, and can provide expertise around effective interagency collaboration to improve the educational outcomes of children in foster care. Please contact us at email@example.com if you have questions.
Kathleen McNaught, Assistant DirectorAmerican Bar AssociationCenter on Children and the Law