Ensuring the Educational Stability of Students in Foster Care
Educational stability is essential to the overall well-being of students in foster care. Children in foster care utilize services provided by schools for access to transportation, meals, health care, social and emotional supports and connection to peers and trusted adults.
For Local Schools and Districts
How can local school district foster care liaisons provide additional supports to students in foster care?
- Ensure contact information for foster families, caregivers, guardian ad items (GALs) and other individuals close to students in foster care are current in districtwide email listservs, call lists and the Student Information System.
- Check in regularly and consistently with students, families and caregivers. Ensure students in foster care can stay connected to trusted adults (coaches, mentors, teachers, school staff).
- Know which students and families need additional assistance with technology and internet connectivity necessary to complete remote schoolwork. Help students and families get connected to the resources offered by the district or local community partners and agencies.
- Work with teachers and other school staff to monitor attendance and engagement rates of students in foster care. If a student needs additional outreach and support , consider developing a plan with teachers, school staff, the foster family and student to ensure success.
- Students in foster care may receive social, emotional and/or behavioral health supports in the school setting. Reference information in How to Support Your Child’s Health and Well-being and Telehealth Guidelines for Service Providers for additional resources on the continuation of these services.
- Ask students and caregivers what they need to feel healthy and safe. Assist in connecting them with other community resources, including housing, food or necessary items if appropriate. See the Preventing Abuse and Neglect: Student Safety During School Restart webpage.
- Strengthen connections with caseworkers and the county children’s services agencies in your area. Reach out when necessary to ensure there are comprehensive services and plans in place for foster youth and families. Collaborate with caseworkers to meet the individual needs of foster youth. Locate child welfare county agency contacts here.
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 all school districts in Ohio use to provide the contact information for designated staff positions. A district’s foster care liaison contact information should be kept up to date in OEDS. It is important for foster families, child welfare agencies and the community to know how to reach the foster care point of contact. If the contact information for the district foster care liaison requires updating, contact the districtwide OEDS administrator. Instructions for updating OEDS can be found here.
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 each school and district. Contact the Education Management Information System (EMIS) coordinator for more information. Local foster care liaisons also should work closely with county children services agencies to stay up to date on students entering foster care and students whose placements change.
Where can best practices for engaging with families and caregivers of youth in foster care be found?
Family and caregiver engagement is essential for students in foster care. It is important to consider additional outreach to foster families, caregivers and kinship providers.
How can schools support students in foster care who are seniors in high school or older youth?
- Ensure students, foster families, caregivers and caseworkers have access to the local school district’s policy for graduation and promotion High school administrators, counselors and teachers should consider additional outreach to students in foster care to ensure they are on-track to complete coursework necessary for graduation and promotion. Student success plans and one-on-one mentoring are vital to the completion of academic requirements. Consider establishing peer-to-peer networks to keep youth connected to friends and classmates during and beyond the school day.
- Monitor the attendance and engagement of youth in foster care. If a student in foster care is experiencing a change in placement, educational stability is vital to his or her overall well-being and success. See the Ohio Department of Education’s Student Attendance and Engagement guidance. Ohio will continue to cover the cost of keeping youths in foster care who are set to age out of the system until further notice. See Governor DeWine’s April 25, 2020 announcement.
- Ensure school staff who work with youth in foster care, including teachers, counselors, and student support services personnel are knowledgeable about transitional resources. Consider connecting eligible 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.
- Visit the Ohio Reach Webpage for more information regarding postsecondary transitions services for former foster youth.
- For more information on services and supports for transition-age youth, visit this resource page from the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs.
How can school districts and child welfare agencies collaborate for “best interest determination” meetings?
If a student is entering foster care for the first time, or is changing foster care placements, a “best interest determination” meeting or conversation is necessary to determine school placement. A student in foster care has the right to remain in his or her school of origin if it’s determined to be in the student’s best interest to do so or he or she can enroll in the school district where the foster care placement is located.
Updated Determination Form: Ohio Department of Education’s Education Delivery Model Best Interest Determination Form
How can local schools and districts ensure they uphold the immediate enrollment provision for students in foster care?
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.
- If a student in foster care is enrolling in a school or district for the first time, ensure the school staff member processing the enrollment contacts the school the student last attended and has the student’s records transferred immediately. Records can include: individualized education programs (IEPs), attendance records, student success plans, course of study plans, etc. Unpaid fees or fines are not a reason to delay student records transfer for youth in foster care.
How can the local school district ensure a student in foster care is receiving transportation to and from the school of origin?
The foster care liaison should work with the district’s transportation coordinator and county children services agency to ensure transportation services are arranged, provided and funded for the duration of time a student is in foster care.
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 Ohio Department of Education’s Foster Care webpage and scroll to the ‘Foster Care Points of Contact’ section at the bottom. For additional information or contact information, email email@example.com.
How can students in foster care receive free school meals?
Although students in foster care are categorically eligible for free school meals, most school districts in Ohio are serving free meals daily to all students. Contact the district food service department for more information about meals served to students.
How can students in foster care and foster families get connected to community partners and resources?
Many local school districts have updated their webpages with information regarding local family and community resources. Examples include the COVID-19 and Stay connected to school district webpages and social media to understand what supports are being provided for youth and families in the local area.
For answers to questions not addressed in this information page, please contact the Department by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Modified: 8/6/2021 4:15:25 PM