CCSD #1 Educational Stability Plan for Children and Youth in Foster Care
Children and youth in foster care represent one of the most vulnerable student groups in our schools as they are at a higher risk for academic delays and school failure. One factor that negatively impacts school achievement for children in foster care is unplanned changes to the school they attend. Congress has recognized the importance of education stability for children and youth in foster care and has enacted legislation requiring state education agencies (SEAs), local education agencies (LEAs), and child welfare agencies to collaborate to ensure students in foster care have the opportunity to achieve at the same high level as their peers.
Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), sets forth responsibilities for each agency to ensure educational stability for children and youth in foster care. Requirements for each agency under Title I include ensuring that:
A child in foster care remains in his or her school of origin, unless it is determined that remaining in the school of origin is not in the child’s best interest;
If it is not in the best interest to stay in his or her school of origin, the child is immediately enrolled in the new school even if the child is unable to produce records normally required for enrollment; and
The new (enrolling) school immediately contacts that school of origin to obtain relevant academic and other records. (ESEA section 1111(g)(1)(E)(i)-(iii)).
“Children and youth” means all school age children enrolled in public school, including preschool age children if the district maintains a preschool.
“Foster care” is defined as 24-hour substitute care for children placed away from their parents or guardians and for whom the child welfare agency has placement and care responsibility. This includes, but is not limited to, placements in foster family homes, foster homes of relatives, group homes, emergency shelters, residential facilities, childcare institutions, and pre-adoptive homes.
“School of Origin” is the school in which a child is enrolled at the time of foster placement. If a child’s foster placement changes, the school of origin would then be considered the school in which the child is enrolled at the time of the placement change.
Educational Stability Plan
Educational stability is a joint responsibility of CCSD #1 and DFS. The following steps will be taken to ensure the educational stability for children and youth in foster care requirements of Title I, Part A of the ESEA as amended by ESSA:
DFS notifies the child’s current school when a child is placed into foster care or is awaiting foster placement.
DFS provides the school with the necessary timeframe for determining the child’s most appropriate school placement.
The school provides DFS information on the appropriateness of the current educational setting and DFS takes into account this information and the distance from potential placement to the child’s current school in the decision-making process.
DFS and the child’s current school jointly determine the child’s best interest for school placement, in consultation with the child and other key partners.
The best interest determination for school placement is completed as quickly as possible after DFS notifies the school of the decision of the child’s new residence. The child remains in his or her school of origin during that time, unless contrary to the child’s best interest.
DFS arranges for transportation and payment of transportation expenses for the child to remain in the school of origin.
An “Educational Stability Plan” form is completed and maintained by the child’s school based on the best interest determination. A copy of the form is disseminated to the DFS office and to the Office of Special Services.
Transportation cannot be a factor in determining best interest for educational stability for a child in foster care. CCSD #1 will work with DFS to ensure transportation is provided, arranged, and funded for the duration of the child’s time in foster care.
In the unlikely event there is a disagreement regarding appropriate school placement for a child in foster care, DFS will be considered the final decision maker in making the best interest determination. CCSD #1 will support and facilitate DFS’s determination.
Immediate Enrollment and Records Transfer
CCSD #1 ensures that a child in foster care is immediately enrolled in his or her new school even if the student does not have the required documentation. CCSD #1 will immediately contact the child’s previous school to obtain relevant records and documentation. CCSD #1 will work with schools to expeditiously send requested student records for foster students enrolling in another district.
Student Data and Privacy
Data sharing between agencies is critical to providing educational stability for children and youth in foster care. CCSD#1 and DFS will collect, use, and share data in order to support the best educational interest of foster children. Both agencies will comply with all statutory requirements, including FERPA and other privacy requirements under federal, state, or local laws, related to the protection of student privacy.
Points of Contact
Each building will appoint a foster care liaison who will be responsible for ensuring the education stability plan above. This may be the school social worker, school counselor, or other qualified professional as determined by the building principal. CCSD #1 and DFS will maintain designated points of contact to oversee the educational stability of children and youth in foster care. Current points of contact are:
Carbon County Department of Family Services
Stacey Kern, Ph.D. NCSP
CCSD #1 Special Services Director
(307) 328-9200 ext. 1021
Rawlins Elementary School:
Hilarie Chandler, MS
(307) 328-7900 ext. 3403
Rawlins Middle School:
Marci Conley, MSW, LCSW, CAP
(307) 328-9201 ext. 5335
Rawlins High School:
Diane MacPherson, MSW
(307) 328-9280 ext. 2321
Victory High School:
Kristen Hite, M.S.
(307) 328-9250 ext. 1039
Little Snake River Valley:
Mark Gillies, MS
(307) 383-2185 ext. 7152