Issue: CAPTA Reauthorization
A provision in the bill places the same requirements on schools as is required of child welfare agencies for promoting education stability for children in foster care.
No formal position.
Every Student Succeeds Act (S. 1177) was introduced by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) on 4/30/15, which included reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Importantly, the legislation includes a provision that mirrors many of the requirements first enacted under the Fostering Connections to Success Act (P.L. 113-183) that amended Title IV-E foster care to require ongoing access to a school of origin for a child in foster care who moves or requires immediate record transfer and immediate access to a new school when in that child’s best interest.
The legislation requires the state educational agency to collaborate with the state child welfare agency to ensure the educational stability of children in foster care. Further, the state educational agency is required to include in its state plan the following assurances:
- Any child enrolls or remains in the child’s school of origin, unless a determination is made that it is not in the child’s best interest to attend the school of origin;
- When a determination is made that it is not in a child’s best interest to remain in the school of origin, the child is immediately enrolled in a new school, even if the child is unable to produce records normally required for enrollment;
- The enrolling school shall immediately contact the school last attended by any such child to obtain relevant academic and other records; and
The state educational agency will designate an employee to serve as a point of contact for the child welfare agency and to oversee implementation of the state agency responsibilities required under the legislation.
The Senate approved the bill on 7/16/15 by a vote of 81-17. The House approved an amended bill on 11/17/15. The President signed the bill on 12/9/15 making it P.L. 114-95.
On 6/23/16, the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released joint guidance on the foster care provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act. The foster care provisions of the legislation went into effect 12/10/16. This joint guidance, Non-Regulatory Guidance: Ensuring Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care, offers details about the requirements under the new law, provides examples from around the country about "what's working" to support students in foster care, and will be a critical resource in implementation efforts. Additional information can also be found on the U.S. Department of Education’s website on ESSA.
The U.S. Department of Education recently published final regulations (81 FR 86076) to implement programs under the ESEA and implement provisions of the ESSA. The regulations are effective 1/30/17. Much of the regulation deals with data reporting, but the regulations also address responsibility for paying for the costs of transporting children in foster care to and from their schools of origin. To be eligible to receive federal funding under the ESEA, the State Educational Agency (SEA) must submit a State plan to the U.S. Department of Education. The regulations add a new assurance to the State plan requirements “to ensure that children in foster care promptly receive transportation, as necessary, to and from their schools of origin”. The regulations state that the SEA must ensure that a Local Education Agency (LEA) receiving federal funds … will collaborate with State and local child welfare agencies to develop and implement clear written procedures” that describes (a) how this requirement will be met in the event of a dispute over which agency or agencies will pay for the transportation costs and (b) which agency or agencies will initially pay the transportation costs so that transportation is provided promptly during the pendency of the dispute.