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Promising Practices and Policies from States and Tribes
  • Child Welfare/Education Collaborations – State Examples National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections
    The Fostering Connections Act builds on prior law by adding a new requirement that case plans ensure the educational stability of the child in foster care and by also requiring Title IV-E state plans show that each child receiving a Title IV-E foster care, adoption or guardianship payment is a full-time school student, or is incapable of attending school due to a documented medical condition. NRCPFC compiled these documents as a tool for State peer-to-peer sharing about successful education and child welfare collaborations to meet these requirements. Some of the information was relayed directly to NRCPFC in response to a survey of State Foster Care Managers and outreach by NRCPFC. Other information was retrieved from the “Fostering Connections Implementation State Survey” available on the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators website.
    • Child Welfare/Education Collaborations (Full Review)
      This document provides information on the status of efforts to meet the education requirements of Fostering Connections in 35 States and the District of Columbia, providing information on policies, practices, and approaches to collaboration between systems. (2010)
  • Implementing the Transportation Requirements within the Educational Stability Portion of Fostering Connections
    In response to an information request, NRCPFC surveyed States about how they are addressing school transportation for children and youth in out-of-home care (when they do not have a resource family near the child’s school of origin). Responses were provided by the following States: Alabama, Iowa, Missouri, New Jersey, South Dakota, Virginia, and Washington. (Last Updated: 7/28/10)

  • California: Understanding Foster Youth Educational Outcomes: Comprehensive Supports throughout Foster Youths’ Lives Result in Better Outcomes
    This Special Edition of Insights In-Depth by the California Child Welfare Co-Investment Partnership includes the following sections: Insights into Data: Linking Education & Foster Care Data; Insights into What Works: Outcomes Improve with Educational Champions, Collaboration & Leadership; Insights into Policy: Foster Youth Can Succeed in School & in Life; and, Facts & Notes: Facts at a Glance. (Fall 2011)

    Education Advocacy Systems: A Study of How California Counties Ensure Foster Youth Receive the Educational Advocacy and Opportunities they Need
    This report examines an emerging strategy designed to ensure foster youth receive the educational advocacy and opportunities they need: the creation of education advocacy systems serving foster youth. These systems provide a structure for identifying foster youth facing educational challenges, determining their educational needs, and ensuring they receive appropriate educational advocacy. The report outlines the common components of education advocacy systems, discusses the structural differences between the systems implemented in different California counties, and provides an overview of eleven different education advocacy systems across California. The conclusion offers several concrete recommendations for stakeholders and policymakers working to improve the educational and life outcomes of these children. This report was produced by the National Center for Youth Law. (2010)
  • Indiana: FosterEd
    The Indiana Department of Child Services has developed FosterEd: Indiana, a statewide program to improve the educational success of children in foster care. The DCS program, modeled on the National Center for Youth Law's FosterEd: Marion County pilot project, will employ 16 regional education specialists and a statewide manager to ensure that foster children receive the educational opportunities they need to succeed in school, and in life. (2012)
  • Iowa: Education Collaborative – Cross-System Quarterly Meetings
    The Education Collaborative is one method the Department of Education, Juvenile Justice System, and the Department of Human Services utilizes to facilitate ongoing conversations about the educational needs of children involved with the child welfare system in Iowa. The Education Collaborative is an opportunity for students, foster parents, educators, state policy professionals, and others to work together to help children in foster care succeed in school.

    Education Collaborative Progress – Excerpt from Iowa’s IV-B Child Welfare Plan
    This document describes the approaches currently utilized by Iowa to implement the educational provisions of Fostering Connections and achieve educational stability and success for children and youth in foster care. It also lists planned activities. (2011)

    Iowa Notification Form from Department of Human Services or Juvenile Court Services
    This form is used to notify school officials of student placement in foster/out-of-home care for the purpose of securing an appropriate educational placement or the transfer of education records. It was created by members of the Education Collaborative. The form and instructions can be found in the Iowa Department of Human Services Employee Manual (Title 17: Child Welfare Appendix). (2011)
  • Texas Blueprint: Transforming Education Outcomes for Children and Youth in Foster Care
    The Legal Center for Foster Care and Education recently released this report, which is the culmination of many months of hard work and collaboration, led by the Supreme Court of Texas' Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families. Stemming from a Supreme Court order issued in 2010, an Education Committee was formed and charged with making recommendations for statewide reform in several key areas including: judicial practices, data and information sharing, multidisciplinary training, and creating and sustaining a statewide collaborative model. The Education Committee – a high-level group of court, education and child welfare decision makers – led the collaborative initiative designed to improve educational outcomes of children and youth in the Texas foster care system. The Education Committee's work brought over 100 court, education and child welfare stakeholders together over an 18-month period to listen and learn from each other, discuss and debate about the issues, and ultimately develop recommendations to improve educational outcomes of children and youth in foster care. For additional information regarding the process there is also a summary fact sheet. (March 2012)
T/TA & Web Based Resources from NRCs, Children’s Bureau, T/TA Network
  • Promoting Educational Stability
    This resource is part of a series of fact sheets for States and Tribes made available by The Training and Technical Assistance Coordination Center (TTACC). These two-page briefs describe available training and technical assistance (T/TA) from the Children’s Bureau to support implementation of the Fostering Connections and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 in eight key areas. Each fact sheet offers a brief overview of the Fostering Connections Act’s provisions in the topic area, the allowable funding and costs for that area under the Act, and examples of the free training and technical assistance that the Children’s Bureau’s National Resource Centers and Implementation Centers can give States and Tribes in that area.

  • Joint Letter from ED and HHS on Fostering Connections Act and Education
    This letter, from Michael Yudin, Acting Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education and Bryan Samuels, Commissioner for the Administration for Children, Youth and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides information and resources related to the Fostering Connections Act and education. It also provides information on the Foster Care and Education National Meeting that ED and HHS will co-host in November, 2011 in Arlington, Virginia. Chief State School Officers and State Child Welfare Directors are encouraged to share the letter with local education agencies (LEAs), and LEAs are urged to share it with school officials, including principles and school social workers, as well as other local stakeholders. (Issued August 25, 2011)
  • NRCPFC Organizational Self-Study on Educational Stability
    This self-study assessment tool, developed by NRCPFC, can be used by child welfare agencies to review efforts to implement the educational provisions of Fostering Connections and to establish policies and practices that support educational stability and continuity for children in foster care. The tool is designed to review overall administrative policies, identify strengths and challenges in ensuring educational stability for children and youth, and assess technical assistance and training needs. It covers legal mandates/policies/practices, collaboration with State or local education agencies, collaboration with juvenile courts, school transportation, data collection and analysis, and professional development. (July 2011)
  • Searchable Publications Webpage
    National Resource Center for Youth Development
    This webpage contains numerous publications, which can be sorted by topic. Topics include Education, Education and Training Vouchers, and Fostering Connections.

  • Strategies to Support School Stability and Continuity: Part 1 (Webinar)
    This series highlights promising practices from collaborative efforts to improve educational stability and continuity for children in child welfare systems. Part 1 starts with a brief overview of federal laws, comments on tracking data on school stability, and insights from youth representatives on the importance of improving practice in this area. The session then highlights strategies that child welfare agencies can pursue within their own systems to improve outcomes, including considering proximity of initial placements when appropriate, building a child welfare culture that prioritizes attention to education, and engaging staff in focusing on educational services. This National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement webinar was co-sponsored by the National Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues, the National Resource Center for Youth Development, the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections, and the National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology. 2011)
  • Strategies to Support School Stability and Continuity: Part 2 (Webinar)
    This second session in the series on school stability and continuity focuses on collaborative strategies with two key partners – education and courts. It highlights a variety of strategies that involve collaboration with education systems, including developing partnerships with education staff, interagency agreements to share data and improve communication, and tracking credits for older children. This webinar also discusses collaborations with courts and the role courts can play in promoting educational stability and continuity for children in child welfare. This National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement webinar was co-sponsored by the National Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues, the National Resource Center for Youth Development, the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections, and the National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology. (2011)
  • Advocating for the Educational Needs of Children in Out-of-Home Care: A Manual for Caseworkers and Supervisors
    National Resource Center for Organizational Improvement
    The purpose of this manual is to help caseworkers understand their role in helping children and youth on their caseloads succeed in school. Topics covered apply across the age spectrum from birth to 21 and involve multiple state and federal laws, programs and policies. This manual was completed in 2006. In January, 2009, and again in April, 2010, it was updated to reflect new state law in Colorado addressing the educational needs of this population as well as changes brought about by the reauthorization in 2004 of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) and passage of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act in 2008. (Colorado Department of Human Services, May, 2006; Updated April, 2010)
Resources from Collaborating Organizations
  • How the IDEA and the Fostering Connections Act Can Work Together to Ensure School Stability and Seamless Transitions for Children with Disabilities in the Child Welfare System
    Children with disabilities have specific rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and other federal laws which require that children with disabilities receive special help to succeed in school. Children in foster care are entitled to school stability under the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (Fostering Connections Act). This issue brief by the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education provides case studies and questions and answers to support those who work with children in care who have/may have disabilities in understanding how these two federal laws can help advocates ensure school stability and smooth transitions for this population. (2012)
  • Education Provisions of Fostering Connections: State Implementation Toolkit and Issue Briefs
    The Legal Center for Foster Care and Education has developed a series of issue briefs analyzing the education provisions of the Fostering Connections Act, and providing examples from states around implementation. These new briefs are part of a larger "State Implementation Toolkit" that includes a basic factsheet on the education provisions of Fostering Connections, a state implementation checklist, and a variety of tools around the overlap with the McKinney-Vento Act. The issue briefs are below.
    • Making Best Interests Decisions
      The Fostering Connections Act places a duty on the child welfare agency to work for school stability. The Act emphasizes the importance of remaining in the same school by requiring child welfare agencies to work for that goal unless "remaining in such school is not in the best interests of the child." This issue brief focuses on how agencies can make the best interest determination: who they should engage in the decision, what factors they should consider, and how to resolve disputes. (2011)

    • Implementing School Placement Decisions
      The best interest determination that a child should stay in the same school or move to a new one is only the first step in ensuring school stability. Unless state law provides to the contrary, the school has the ultimate responsibility to allow the child to stay or be enrolled elsewhere. This issue brief discusses the legislation, interagency collaborations, or other agreements needed to assist in implementing the best interest decisions. (2011)

    • When School Stability Requires Transportation: State Considerations
      To make school stability a reality for children in foster care, some children will need transportation to the school they are attending when they are moved to a placement in a new school district or attendance area. States and localities must identify the agencies responsible for arranging and paying for that transportation. This issue brief focuses on how to ensure children receive transportation to support school stability when in their best interest. (2011)

    • Making the Case: Engaging Education Partners in Addressing the Education Needs of Children in Foster Care
      For youth in foster care, a quality education depends on the involvement and support of both child welfare and education agencies. Indeed, both child welfare and education law compels each system to support the education needs of children in foster care. In practice, the amount of attention paid to education outcomes of children in care varies widely by state, locality, and individual agency. Although recent changes to federal child welfare law have placed clear obligations on child welfare agencies to ensure education stability, these agencies cannot fully achieve education stability for children in care without the support of their education partners. This issue brief focuses on how to persuade education partners to prioritize the important needs of children in care. (2011)

    • Making it Work: Child Welfare and Education Agencies Collaborating to Ensure School Stability for Children in Foster Care
      Implementing the Fostering Connections Act requires collaboration between education and child welfare agencies. However, once education and child welfare agencies have agreed to work together, the process has only begun. This issue brief offers guidance, resources, and examples on how to begin a collaboration, the form and structure of the collaboration, and – most importantly – the goals and substantive content of the work. (2011)

  • State Implementation Checklists
    The Legal Center for Foster Care and Education has developed two checklists designed to assist states with implementing the education provisions of the Fostering Connections Act. (2011)
    • Checklist 1: Setting the Stage
      This checklist lays out the foundational questions for implementing Fostering Connections: What do child welfare agencies, education agencies, courts, and legislators need to do to prepare for implementing the Act?

    • Checklist 2: Education Obligations and Considerations under the Fostering Connections Act
      This checklist details the responsibilities of the various agencies under Fostering Connections, and suggests the questions and considerations for each.

  • Legal Center for Foster Care and Education Database
    This is an interactive database of resources and documents related to the education needs of children in foster care. You can use it to search for specific information about the education needs of children in foster care by state, and/or type of document, and/or topic.
  • When Working Together Works: Academic Success for Students in Out-of-Home Care
    This brief, published by The Legal Center for Foster Care and Education and The National Center for Homeless Education, is designed to help educators and child welfare advocates work together to support the academic success of children and youth in out-of-home care. The brief offers practical, proven strategies for implementing the Fostering Connections and McKinney-Vento Acts collaboratively. Specifically, this brief will assist state and local agencies and staff in: Laying a foundation for working together; Agreeing on requirements and expectations; Promoting school stability; and, Incorporating children fully in classes and school activities. (2010)
  • The Fostering Connections Act: Ensuring Educational Success
    The NGA Center hosted this webcast, which brought together experts to discuss the education provisions in the Fostering Connections Act to assist states in making informed implementation decisions. This webcast provides a detailed overview of the education provisions included in the Fostering Connections Act and an update on the national efforts to support implementation. The webcast also highlighted Pennsylvania, a state that is moving forward with implementation of these provisions by engaging education, child welfare, and the advocacy community. (April 2009)
Evidence Based Practice, Research, and Reports
  • Meeting the Education Requirements of Fostering Connections: Learning from the Field
    This brief, authored by Margaret Flynn-Khan and available on the Finance Project website, aims to help agency leaders, policymakers, judges, and their partners understand and respond effectively to the education requirements of Fostering Connections by reflecting on lessons learned from a decade of initiatives to improve education outcomes for youth in and leaving foster care. It focuses on how policies and practices implemented in response to Fostering Connections can provide the foundation for collaborative education supports that lead more youth in foster care to complete high school and pursue and succeed in postsecondary education. The brief is organized in alignment with lessons learned from innovative education projects around the nation. Namely, child welfare agencies, education agencies, and courts all have critical roles to play in supporting education achievement for youth in foster care. Moreover, success is a function of the strength of collaboration across these systems. Following an overview of the requirements of Fostering Connections, the brief includes a framework for effective cross-system coordination and highlights actions that leaders of the child welfare system, education system, and courts can take to promote education success for youth in care. The brief also provides examples of existing state and local efforts to improve the education continuity and stability of older youth in foster care. (2010)

  • Improving Educational Continuity and School Stability for Children in Out-of-Home Care
    In a breakthrough series collaborative (BSC), teams from state, county, and tribally administered child welfare agencies come together to conduct small-scale practice changes that are rapidly tested and disseminated, and that can lead to dramatic system-wide improvements in a short time. Pioneered in the health care arena, the BSC methodology is new to the field of child welfare but shows significant promise for bridging the gaps between best practices and actual practice. This report, available on the Casey Family Programs website, highlights the most promising practices developed by the participating teams where the focus was on improving educational continuity and school stability; these strategies influenced systems change by enhancing the way information is exchanged across systems and by coordinating resources and advocacy around educational issues. The strategies, practices, and tools that emerged as having the greatest potential for affecting systems improvements are described along with the many insights and lessons learned that shaped the teams’ experiences. (December 2009)