The Departments of Education and Health and Human Services (HHS) released a joint letter on May 30, offering assistance to educational agencies and child welfare agencies struggling to improve educational outcomes for students in foster care.
Under the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Fostering Connections Act), state child welfare agencies receiving Title IV-E funding are mandated to provide a case plan for each foster child that considers the suitability of the educational setting based on the placement, and requires coordination between child welfare agencies and local educational agencies to ensure that the child is enrolled in a school that adequately meets his or her educational needs.
However, coordination between state and local agencies has often been missing amid confusion about the scope of the Fostering Connections Act, according to a joint letter from Assistant Secretary of Education Deborah S. Delisle and Mark H. Greenberg, acting assistant secretary of the Administration for Children.
“Some [school districts] have concluded that the Fostering Connections Act applies only to State and tribal child welfare agencies receiving funds under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act,” the letter said.
To help all organizations meet their obligations to provide educational stability to foster youth, the Department of Education and HHS will provide technical assistance and arrange shared follow-up activities to ensure child welfare administrations and public education agencies don’t jeopardize funding under Fostering Connections.
A new page on the Department of Education’s website dedicated to educational support for students in foster care provides information about legal requirements, guidance, and other materials related to the Fostering Connections Act.
HHS provides additional materials on the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections Web site, including information on data sharing and examples of child welfare and education collaboration.
Jeremy Loudenback is a Journalism for Social Change Fellow and a graduate student at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy.