ACF and DOE Joint Letter Regarding Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care
This joint letter regarding the educational stability of children in foster care was issued by the Children’s Bureau (CB), Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and the Department of Education (DOE) on May 30, 2014. This letter to Chief State School Officers and Child Welfare Directors reminds State educational agencies (SEAs) and State child welfare agencies (SCWAs) that SCWAs and local educational agencies (LEAs) are obligated to coordinate efforts to ensure the educational stability of students in foster care under the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008. The letter outlines requirements of the Fostering Connections Act and discusses the coordination necessary to ensure effective implementation of these requirements. The letter also discusses resources and information (including guidance on the Uninterrupted Scholars Act) available through a new ED webpage, Students in Foster Care, as well as the HHS resources available through the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections website. (May 2014)
New Department of Education Resource Available for Current and Former Foster Care Youth
- Youth aging out of foster care may face many various challenges enrolling in college, including accessing accurate information about scholarships, financial aid, and other grants. The Department of Education has created a website to assist young people when they are thinking about attending college. It includes information and resources on preparing for college, types of financial aid available, eligibility for aid, applying for aid, and managing loans. http://studentaid.ed.gov/
- Archived Webinar Series- Uninterrupted Scholars Act
The Legal Center for Foster Care & Education makes available on its website the following archived recordings and supporting materials from past webinars on the Uninterrupted Scholars Act:
- The Uninterrupted Scholars Act: How Recent Changes to FERPA Can Improve Educational Outcomes for Children in Care— June 18, 2013
- The Uninterrupted Scholars Act: State Implementation Opportunities August 7, 2013
- The Uninterrupted Scholars Act: Promising Information-Sharing Practices—November 14, 2013
Educational Needs of Highly Mobile Children with Disabilities under IDEA
The US Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the Department of Education issued a policy letter addressing the rights of "highly mobile" students with disabilities. The letter specifies that "highly mobile children include children experiencing frequent family moves into new school districts, such as military-connected children, migrant children, children in the foster care system, and children who are homeless". The letter focuses on two main IDEA (The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) issues – timely evaluation and eligibility (including that "response to intervention" approaches cannot be used to delay evaluation by receiving school districts) and comparable services at receiving school district, including Extended School Year services. The specific IDEA issues identified in this letter are of particular relevance to children in foster care. (July 19, 2013)
Department of Education (DOE) Letter, GEN-13-18: “Extended Foster Care
The Federal Department of Education (DOE) has been receiving inquiries from child welfare and financial aid offices about “how extended foster care payments made by a state directly to foster youth are treated when determining a student's Title IV student aid eligibility, including whether these payments should be reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).” There seemed to be inconsistencies with how Chafee funds provided to college students affected reported financial aid, as well as impact their eligibility for other financial aid. This issue affects an increasing number of students as more states pass legislation extending foster care up to the age of 21.
This letter issued by the DOE describes the treatment of extended foster care payments that are made directly to the student when determining Title IV federal student aid eligibility. (July 3, 2013)
- ACF and DOE Letter Regarding Uninterrupted Scholars Act
This letter to Chief State School Officers and Child Welfare Directors, issued jointly by the US DHHS Administration for Children and Families and Department of Education, provides information about the Uninterrupted Scholars Act, including available technical assistance and upcoming activities that will support implementation. (April 24, 2013)
- The Uninterrupted Scholars Act: How Do Recent Changes to FERPA Help Child Welfare Agencies Get Access to School Records?
This Foster Care & Education Q&A from the Legal Center for Foster Care & Education offers information about how The Uninterrupted Scholars Act impacts FERPA. It provides information addressing the following questions: Why is sharing education information between child welfare, education, and court systems important?; What is FERPA and how does it affect education agencies’ ability to share education records with child welfare agencies?; What has changed in FERPA that affects children in foster care?; Why were these changes needed?; To whom can schools release records under the new exception?; When and with whom can the child welfare agency share the education records?; How did the new law change the notice requirements under FERPA’s “court order” exception?; Where can I learn more about this topic?. (2013)
Please note: This resource is offered as information material only. It is not an Administration for Children & Families / Children’s Bureau publication and is not meant to be used for guidance in implementing federal policy.
- S 3472, The Uninterrupted Scholars Act
On January 14, 2013, President Obama signed into law S 3472, the Uninterrupted Scholars Act. This Act makes key amendments to FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) that will allow for improved information sharing between education and child welfare agencies.