Students in Foster Care

Ensuring the Educational Stability of Students in Foster Care – Guidance for Ohio’s Ordered School-Building Closure

Children in foster care rely on services typically received in schools for educational stability and access to transportation, food security, health care needs and connection to peers and trusted adults. Due to Ohio’s ordered school-building closure, many children in foster care will require additional support to access these services.

Below are questions and answers to help local school districts and county children services agencies effectively collaborate and meet the educational and social-emotional needs of students in foster care during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

For Local Schools and Districts

For Child Welfare Agencies and Congregate Care Facilities


For Local Schools and Districts

    How can local school district foster care liaisons continue supports to students in foster care during Ohio’s ordered school-building closure?
    • Ensure contact information foster families and caregivers is up to date on districtwide email listservs and call lists.
    • Communicate and check in with students, families and caregivers by phone, email or other methods.
    • Ensure students in foster care know how to engage in remote learning provided by the district. Connect them with information and resources to communicate with teachers or counselors and help them know where to access schoolwork.
    • Students in foster care may receive social, emotional and/or behavioral health supports in the school setting that they cannot access due to the ordered school-building closure. Reference How to Support Your Child’s Health and Well-being during Ohio’s ordered school-building closure and Telehealth Guidelines for Service Providers for more information and additional resources.
    • Ask students and caregivers what they need to feel healthy and safe. Help connect them with other community resources, including housing, food or necessary items if appropriate. See the Student Safety During Coronavirus Ordered School-Building Closure webpage for more information on keeping students safe.
    • Strengthen connections with caseworkers. Reach out to caseworkers virtually to ensure there are comprehensive services and plans in place for foster youth (for example, lodging, food and supportive services). Collaborate with caseworkers to meet the individual needs of foster youth. Locate child welfare county agency contacts here.

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    How can local schools and districts update the contact information (name, position, email, phone number) of the local school district’s foster care liaison?
    The Ohio Educational Directory System (OEDS) is the data system that all school districts in Ohio use to provide the contact information for staff members in their districts. A district’s foster care liaison contact information should be kept up to date in OEDS. Instructions for doing so can be found here.

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    Where can a district foster care liaison obtain an up-to-date list of students in foster care in his or her respective district?

    The Education Management Information System (EMIS) will have information on students in foster care in your district. Contact your local school district’s Education Management Information System (EMIS) coordinator for more information. Local foster care liaisons also should work closely with their county children services agencies during the ordered school-building closure to stay up to date on students entering foster care and students whose placements change.

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    Where can best practices for engaging with families and caregivers of youth in foster care be found?
    Family and caregiver engagement is essential to every local school and district’s COVID-19 response. It is important to consider additional outreach to foster families, caregivers and kinship providers who may need support implementing remote learning and creating structure and routine in the home during Ohio’s ordered school-building closure.

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    How can schools support students in foster care who are seniors in high school or older youth?
    • Make sure foster families, caregivers and caseworkers know the local school district’s policy for graduation and promotion for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
    • High school administrators, counselors or teachers should consider additional outreach to students in foster care during this time to ensure they can continue to complete coursework necessary for graduation and promotion. Visit the Department’s webpage on Graduation Requirements in Light of Coronavirus-Related School-Building Closure for more frequently asked questions and information.
    • Ohio will continue to cover the cost of keeping youths in foster care who are set to age out of the system until the COVID-19 pandemic ends. See Governor DeWine’s April 25 announcement.
    • Ensure key staff are knowledgeable about transitional resources for foster youth. Consider connecting students with Ohio BRIDGES or Young Adult Services through the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services for housing support, employment opportunities and postsecondary education access. · For more information on services and supports for transition-age youth, visit this resource page from the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs.

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    For students entering foster care or changing foster care placements, typically a ‘best interest determination’ conversation should happen between the county children services agency and local school district. How does this happen during Ohio’s ordered school building closure period?

    During Ohio’s ordered school-building closure, it may be in a child’s best interest to ensure he or she can stay connected to the school the child attended prior to the closure. Doing so can provide consistency in communication with trusted adults, like teachers and counselors, during the ordered school-building closure. Many students in foster care have experienced trauma and removing them from personal connections may compound this effect. Students also may have better access to remote learning resources and other supports essential for their educational progress.

    However, if a change in foster care placement is significant in distance, conducting a best interest determination via phone or virtual platform between the caseworker and personnel from the local school district may be needed. Schools, districts and county children services agencies should use their locally developed, best interest determination procedures and knowledge of each student’s individual situation to determine the educational setting most appropriate for each child during this time.

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    How can local schools and districts ensure they uphold the immediate enrollment provision for students in foster care?
    A school or district should follow its process for enrolling students in foster care during Ohio’s ordered school-building closure. Under section 1111(g)(1)(E) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act, students in foster care have a right to immediate enrollment when they are placed into care or experience a change in foster care placement and a determination is made that it is not in the student’s best interest to remain in the school of origin.

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For Child Welfare Agencies and Congregate Care Facilities

    Who should be contacted in each local school district regarding services for students in foster care?
    Each local school district and community school in the state of Ohio has a foster care liaison. To find the foster care liaison in a district, visit the Foster Care webpage and scroll to the Foster Care Points of Contact section at the bottom. For additional information or contact information, email fostercare@education.ohio.gov.

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    How can students in foster care receive free school meals?
    • All students in foster care are categorically eligible for free school meals. Many school districts in Ohio are serving meals daily to all children ages 18 and under in their communities. To find the school meal site closest to the student or family, visit this link.
    • Congregate care facilities for students in foster care that would like to pick up school meals for multiple students should follow the parent and guardian meal pick-up policy in the ‘Resources’ section of the Supporting Whole Child Nutrition webpage.

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    How can foster families and caseworkers ensure students in foster care who have individualized education programs (IEPs) or Section 504 plans are receiving educational services during Ohio’s ordered school-building closures?
    Please refer to the Considerations for Students with Disabilities During Ohio’s Ordered School Building Closure resource from the Department. If you have specific questions, reach out to your student’s intervention specialist or classroom teacher to discuss the teaching approach from the school during the ordered school-building closure.

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    How can I get more information?
    For answers to questions not addressed in this guidance, please contact the Department by sending an email to fostercare@education.ohio.gov.

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Last Modified: 5/8/2020 11:59:37 AM