In December 2015, Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which reauthorized the Elementary & Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). It specifically addressed the needs of students in foster care and instituted new protections for them. These provisions took effect December 10, 2016, and require that school districts work with child welfare agencies to ensure the educational stability of children and youth in foster care.
The law specifically:
- Requires 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 that child’s best interest.
- States that if it is not in the child’s best interest to stay in his or her school of origin, the child is immediately enrolled in the new school. This occurs even if the child is unable to produce records normally required for enrollment.
- Requires new (enrolling) school to immediately contact the school of origin to obtain relevant academic and other records.
- Mandates transportation to school of origin if in child’s best interest. District is using procedures already established for homeless students.
- Establishes a local point of contact for foster care:
Director for Student Services
St. Johns County School District
40 Orange St., St. Augustine, FL 32084
fax: (904) 547-7595
Collaboration is continuing with the local child welfare agencies in fully implementing this federal law, including initial identification as well as documentation and tracking. Development of additional procedures and policies to ensure compliance and best practices will occur as necessary.