Students in foster care may change schools frequently, impacting their academic achievement
Report shows federal support can help state-level agencies ensure that students in foster care remain at their school even when their foster care placement changes
Washington, D.C. –Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP), Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) released a report from the Government Accountability Office showing that the Department of Education can do more to support students in foster care.
Federal law is clear that when children are brought into foster care or change placements, the state must ensure they remain in the school in which they are enrolled at the time of each placement so long as it is in the child’s best interest. The evidence is clear that new placements and disruptions can jeopardize students’ academic achievement. The report shows significant state- and district-level challenges to implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provisions meant to address this issue and concludes that the Department of Education can do more to support the state education and child welfare agencies tasked with collaborating to ensure students stay in their school of origin. The report recommends that the Department of Education take common-sense steps to provide states with the information and resources they need to ensure a stable education for students in foster care.
“Children in foster care are some of our most vulnerable students, and they should be able to stay with their friends, teachers and counselors at their school even when they move to a new foster care placement,” said Senator Patty Murray. “The Department of Education must do everything it can to help states ensure every student has the stable education they need to thrive.”
“Children and youth in foster care face serious disruptions, and schools, teachers and friends are often their sole source for community and stability. That’s why federal law requires states to keep these children and youth in their home schools. Despite this, there is still immense confusion on the ground,” Senator Wyden said. “The Department of Education must do more to help states do right by these young people.”
“When kids are in supportive homes and schools, it helps them thrive and sets them up for success in and out of the classroom,” said Senator Smith. “When children in foster care have to change home placements, the question of where they go to school is an important one and they should at least have the option to remain in their school, if that’s what is best for them. This report outlines how the Department of Education can and should do more to make sure states and school districts in Minnesota and across the country are supporting all students, including those in foster care.”
“Foster children regularly face greater challenges than their peers. Uprooting them from the stability of their schools, friends and teachers is an unnecessary challenge that can be prevented in many circumstances,” Senator Grassley said. “All children deserve our support during their academic careers. Helping our kids in foster care to stay in the same school when possible is something we can and must do.”
Read the full report HERE.