Transportation Supports for Students Living in Foster Care

Title I, Part A as enacted through the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires that traditional public districts and community schools ensure a student’s school stability by ensuring transportation to and from the school of origin. 

Prompt Transportation for Students in Foster Care 

If the child remains in their school of origin while in foster care, federal law requires districts to collaborate with local child welfare agencies to develop and implement clear procedures for how transportation will be provided, arranged and funded for the duration of the time in foster care.   

It is recommended that students in foster care who remain in their school of origin have a transportation plan within 5 days of a best interest determination decision. Interim transportation is arranged until permanent transportation is in place for a student in foster care.  

If there is a dispute regarding transportation costs, students must remain in their school of origin while dispute resolution takes place. Access Making A Transportation Plan: Implementing ESSA Transportation Requirements to Ensure School Stability for a sample transportation plan. 

Funding Additional Costs 

As part of the transportation plan, the district and the custodial agency must outline procedures to specify how to handle any additional costs. Federal guidance clarifies that “additional costs” are the difference between what a district would otherwise spend to transport a student to their assigned school and the cost of transporting a child in foster care to their school of origin. For districts that do not calculate the average cost of transportation per pupil, additional costs may be defined as those costs above what the state reimburses the district for pupil transportation.  

Schools and districts may reserve a portion of Title I, Part A funds to support the additional costs needed to transport children in foster care to their schools of origin. The amount reserved, if any, should be based on need. For more information, see page 6 of the Title I, Part A spending guide

Cost Sharing Supports 

Cost-sharing to meet the match requirement for federal reimbursement is allowable. For example, the local district may contribute to the match needed for the custodial agency’s federal reimbursement of costs associated with transporting the child to the school of origin. Match dollars must be from a non-federal source; state or local funding can be used for this purpose. 

Title IV-E funds (i.e., child welfare dollars) may be available to assist with additional transportation costs for children who are eligible (i.e., those children who meet the specific requirements set forth section 472 of the Social Security Act). Custodial agencies determine which costs to include in a child’s foster care maintenance payment. Reasonable transportation costs to enable the child to attend their school of origin are allowable under the federal Title IV-E program. Agencies take multiple factors into account when defining reasonable transportation, including costs, distance and duration. Although Title IV-E reimbursement is available for the federal portion of these costs, local agencies receiving Title IV-E funds are responsible for the non-federal portion. 

Related Resources 

Last Modified: 12/1/2023 3:39:49 PM