Part A - Foster Care


Intent & Purpose

Children in foster care often and inadvertently change schools, which along with enrollment delays and record transfers can have a significant disruptive impact on their academic progress. Studies have shown that children in foster care face an increased risk of grade retention, gaps in academic achievement, low high school graduation rates, and postsecondary enrollment.

Recognizing these adverse educational outcomes, the new foster care provisions under Title I of ESSA require State Educational Agencies (SEAs) and LEAs to collaborate with Child Welfare Agencies (CWAs) to ensure educational stability and minimize educational disruptions for children in foster care.
Among other provisions, the educational stability includes assurances that (1) a child in foster care will remain in the child’s school of origin, unless a determination is made that it is not in the child’s best interest to remain in that school and (2) if a determination is made that it is not in the child’s best interest to remain in the school of origin, the child will be immediately enrolled in the school of residence, even if the child is unable to produce records normally required for enrollment. These will help ensure that children in foster care experience minimal disruption to their education during moves and placement changes.

In implementing these provisions, SEAs, LEAs, and CWAs must ensure compliance with other applicable laws, such as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), among others. Taken in totality, these provisions promote greater stability for children in foster care so that they can continue their education without disruption, maintain important relationships with peers and adults, and have the opportunity to achieve college- and career-readiness.

Law & Guidance

In 2008, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-351, Fostering Connections Act) was signed into law. This law amends parts B and E of Title IV of the Social Security Act and seeks to promote education stability for foster children.
For children in out-of-home care, child welfare agencies must include “a plan for ensuring the educational stability of the child while in foster care” as part of every child’s case plan. As part of this plan, the agency must include assurances that:

•Each placement of the child in foster care takes into account the appropriateness of the current educational setting and the proximity to the school in which the child is enrolled at the time of placement; and
•The state child welfare agency has coordinated with appropriate local educational agencies to ensure that the child remains in the school in which the child is enrolled at the time of placement.

Additionally, the law requires that if remaining in such school is not in the best interest of the child, the case plan must include assurances by the child welfare agency and the local educational agencies that:

•Provide immediate and appropriate enrollment in a new school; and
•Provide all of the educational records of the child to the school.

The Fostering Connections Act supports the well-being of children in out-of-home care by requiring states to provide assurances in their Title IV, Part E state plans that every school–age child in foster care, and every school– age child receiving an adoption assistance or subsidized guardianship payment, is a full-time elementary or secondary school student or has completed secondary school. The Fostering Connections Act increases the types of federal funding that may be used to cover education-related transportation costs for children in foster care. It expands the definition of “foster care maintenance payments” to include reasonable transportation to a child’s school of origin.


In December 2015, Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). United States Department of Education (USDE) places a condition on SEA’s fiscal year 2016 Title I grant award that requires each State to ensure that the Title I educational stability provision requirements under ESSA, Sections 1111(g)(l)(E) and 1112(c)(5)(B) are implemented no later than December 10, 2016. OSDE has developed the guidelines herein to ensure compliance with the new law requirements.
The McKinney-Vento Act is a federal law that provides rights and protections to homeless children and youth, including those “awaiting foster care placement.” ESSA amended section 725 of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (McKinney-Vento Act), removing children “awaiting foster care placement” from the definition of “homeless children and youths” starting on December 10, 2016.

 
340:75-1-9. Oklahoma Department of Human Services authority to administer a child welfare program
The authority of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) to administer a Child Welfare (CW) program is based on the Oklahoma Social Security Act [Section 176 of Title 56, Oklahoma Statutes] that authorizes OKDHS to provide . . . for the protection and care of homeless, dependent and neglected children, and children in danger of becoming delinquent. The authority and scope for the care and custody of children includes:

(1) The Oklahoma Children's Code, Article 1 of Title 10A of the Oklahoma Statutes;
(2) Federal laws and regulations under Titles IV-B, IV-E, V, VI, XIX and XX of the Social Security Act, as amended, including, but not limited to the:


(A) Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994;
(B) Interethnic Adoption Provisions of 1996;
(C) Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997;
(D) Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008; and
(3) Decisions made by the Oklahoma Commission for Human "Reasonable and prudent parent standard" means the standard characterized by careful and sensible parental decisions that maintain the health, safety, and best interests of a child while at the same time encouraging the emotional and developmental growth of the child.  This standard is used by the child's caregiver when determining whether to allow a child to participate in extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, and social activities, per 10A O.S. § 1-1-105.

(A) For purposes of this definition, the term "caregiver" means a foster parent with whom a child in foster care has been placed, a representative of a group home where a child has been placed, or a designated official for a residential child care facility where a child in foster care has been placed.
(B) Each facility must assure that at least one employee is designated and authorized to apply the reasonable and prudent parent standard to decisions involving the participation of a child in age-appropriate or developmentally-appropriate activities. The authorized facility employee is provided with training on how to use and apply the reasonable and prudent parent standard.

 

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Last updated on December 5, 2019