The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 requires that "assurances by the State child welfare agency and the local education agencies to provide immediate and appropriate enrollment in a new school" be included in the child's case plan when changing schools is determined to be in the child's best interest. The non-regulatory guidance for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) describes how a State education agency must coordinate with the State or Tribal child welfare agency to ensure that the local education agencies implement the educational stability requirements for children in foster care as stated in title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. This includes ensuring the following:
- A child in foster care will remain in his or her school of origin unless it is determined that this is not in the child’s best interest.
- If it is not in the child’s best interest to stay in his or her school of origin, the child will immediately be enrolled in a new school, even if the child is unable to produce records normally required for enrollment.
- The new (enrolling) school will immediately contact the school of origin to obtain relevant academic and other records.
These provisions help ensure minimal interruption to a child's learning and help support positive educational outcomes for children and youth in out-of-home care. The following resources offer information about how to support immediate enrollment for these children.
Non-Regulatory Guidance: Ensuring Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care
U.S. Department of Education & U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2016)
Provides joint guidance for education and child welfare agencies to use as they establish new partnerships and implement the educational stability provisions of ESSA. These materials include promising practices from the field and two joint letters on the guidance and timelines.
School Registration for Children in Out-of-Home Care: Information for Caregivers and Educators (PDF - 191 KB)
New Jersey Department of Children and Families & New Jersey Department of Education (2011)
Explains the school registration process in order to ensure the school attendance of New Jersey children in out-of-home care within 72 hours of placement. This flyer also includes guidelines on registration and attendance requirements as well as necessary documents.
Strategies for Ensuring Immediate School Enrollment for Youth in Care
Lieberman, Stocker, Trigg, & Hahnel (2011)
Focuses on the various ways the States ensure immediate enrollment of foster children in a new school when it is in their best interest, as well as policies and strategies for helping children in foster care succeed in new educational environments. The materials describe the roles and responsibilities of schools, child welfare agencies, and courts with respect to enrollment and addresses topics such as the use of shared data systems to facilitate enrollment and school success and common barriers to immediate enrollment. This workshop was presented at a conference co-sponsored by the Children's Bureau and the U.S. Department of Education. Workshop materials include the following:
- Workshop Video
- Education Services for Youth in Care (PPT - 882 KB)
- Strategies for Ensuring Immediate Enrollment for Youth in Care (PDF - 822 KB)
- Data Sharing to Support Enrollment and Improve Educational Outcomes of Youth in Foster Care (PPT - 286 KB)
- Education Records Release (PDF - 357 KB)
- New School Checklist for Students (DOC - 52 KB)
- New Student Checklist for School Staff (DOC - 53 KB)