06.23.16

FOSTER CARE: Senators Applaud Agencies for Their Leadership to Increase the Educational Success of Children in Foster Care

Newly-released guidance by the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services will help improve communication and collaboration between child welfare agencies and state and local educational agencies to implement key reforms to support children in foster care

 

Senators have been pushing for a joint agency response to implement and enforce improvements under the landmark ESSA law and Fostering Connections Act

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, and Senator Al Franken (D-MN), member of Senate HELP and Judiciary Committees, applauded the Department of Education (ED) and Department of Health and Human Services’s (HHS) joint guidance regarding educational stability for children in foster care under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008. The guidance clarifies key improvements in both laws for foster children, including changes related to school stability, transportation to the school of origin, points of contact, and reporting. A bipartisan group of Senators requested this guidance in a letter sent to both agencies on May 5, 2016.

“All students should have the chance to further their education and succeed in life—but unfortunately, children in foster care face several unique challenges that make it hard for them to succeed in school, including high mobility rates and lack of educational stability,” said Senator Patty Murray. “These efforts will provide critically-needed clarity and guidance for how states, school districts, and child welfare agencies can work together to support foster children and enhance their educational success. I applaud the Departments for their leadership and dedication on behalf of children in foster care and encourage education and child welfare stakeholders to begin working together as quickly as possible to implement the new reforms.”

 

“Children in foster care must overcome tremendous uncertainty in their daily lives just to go to school and get their homework done,” said Senator Ron Wyden. “Between changing homes and being separated from siblings and family, school is often the most stable part of these children’s lives. This guidance gives education and child welfare agencies a road map to ensure they are doing what they can to help children get a good education and continue going to a school they know.”

 

“Foster kids sometimes change homes and schools a dozen times—or even more—throughout their childhood,” said Senator Al Franken. “And in the past, if new foster parents lived in a different school district, the student had to change schools. But for a lot of these kids, school is where they feel safe, secure, and are able to find certainty. We wrote a measure into the new education law to address this, and I’m pleased that the Department of Education has released guidance to make sure states are supported as they implement this new provision.”

 

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