Educational Stability of Students in Foster Care

General Questions


General Questions

Are districts required by federal law to designate a foster care liaison?
Yes. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) contains key protections for students in foster care to promote school stability and success. ESSA requires the State Education Agency (SEA) and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to collaborate with custodial agency child welfare partners to improve the educational outcomes of children and youth in foster care. It is important for foster families, child welfare agencies and the community to know how to reach the foster care point of contact. The local Public Children’s Services Agency (PCSA) may need to share information with the district-designated foster care liaison. Districts will identify this point of contact within the Ohio Education Directory System (OEDS).  

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Can a student in foster care immediately enroll, regardless of having paperwork?
Yes. If it is in the student’s best interest to change schools, a district must immediately enroll the student in his or her new school even if the student doesn’t have the necessary documentation for enrollment. Per Ohio law, the enrolling school will contact the student’s prior school for relevant records within 24 hours of the student’s arrival.

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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 all school districts in Ohio use to provide the contact information for designated staff positions. A district’s foster care liaison contact information is kept up to date in OEDS. To access the information for a foster care liaison, follow these steps: 

  1. Go to the OEDS Directory 

  1. Search the school district name and then click on the district. 

  1. Once on the district’s page, select “personnel” from the top search bar. 

  1. In “Roles Available to this Organization,” search: Foster Care Contact – ESSA. 

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What is a best interest determination?
A custodial agency makes a best interest decision, following collaboration with the local school district and other stakeholders, as to whether it is in the child’s best interest to remain in the school of origin following a foster care placement or change in foster care placement. Information about academic, social and emotional circumstances can impact what is in the student’s best interest and highlights the importance of collaborating to ensure educational stability for students in foster care. While the convenience and cost of transportation to the school district cannot be a consideration, distance of the commute and its impact on the student’s education and/or special needs may be considered during the best interest determination meeting. 

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What is the difference between “school of origin” and “district of service” for a student in foster care?
The school of origin is the school in which a child is enrolled at the time of placement in foster care or at the time of a chance in foster placement. A district must ensure that a child in foster care remains in their school of origin unless a determination is made that it is not in the child’s best interest to do so. District of service is the district in the attendance area of the foster placement. All children in foster care, with the exception of voluntary placements, are placed under order of the court. The custodial agency and the district work together collaboratively to determine if the child should stay in the school of origin or enroll in the district where the foster placement is located. Teams should be aware of and must follow existing court orders.  

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What meets the definition of foster care per the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)?
Foster care means 24-hour substitute care away from parents or guardians and for whom a public agency has care and placement responsibility. This includes but is not limited to: placements in foster family homes, foster homes of relatives (kinship care), group homes, emergency shelters, residential facilities, and pre-adoptive homes. Foster care placements may be short- or long-term. Foster care placement includes Title IV-E eligible students. Title IV-E eligibility is based on meeting certain criteria when a child is initially removed from their home due to child abuse or neglect. 

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Who is responsible for transporting a student in foster care?
Districts of service who receive Title I funding must ensure transportation to the child’s school of origin will be provided, arranged and funded the duration of the time the child is in foster care. Transportation procedures should address the district and custodial agency’s interagency transportation agreement and a procedure to address the transportation needs of individual students in foster care. 

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Last Modified: 5/24/2024 12:42:49 PM