Vulnerable students receive increased attention in recent ESSA guidance

     

The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) made some significant changes and additions to requirements related to children in foster care. On June 23rd, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) issued the document “Non-Regulatory Guidance: Ensuring Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care”, which provides clarification for the new or changed requirements.

Important additions and changes brought on by ESSA:

  • Children “awaiting foster care placement” are removed from the definition of “homeless children and youth” under the McKinney-Vento Act.
  • States and districts are required to provide an assurance that students in foster care remain in their school of origin unless it is determined it is not in the best interest of the student.
  • States and districts are required to collaborate with child welfare agencies to ensure the transportation of children in foster to their school of origin.

Foster Care Students and ESSA

Services removed for children ‘awaiting foster care placement’: The recent reauthorization by ESSA included changes and updates to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act that affect students awaiting foster care placement. Prior to ESSA, these children were included in the definition of “homeless children and youth” and were therefore eligible for additional services provided under that Act. This provision was removed by ESSA, so children “awaiting foster care placement” are no longer included in the definition of “homeless children and youth” and will no longer be eligible for these additional services provided to students experiencing homelessness. Services that are now unavailable through the McKinney-Vento Act, but may still be available through other programs include:

  • Tutoring
  • Supplemental Instruction
  • Eligibility for meals through the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program
  • Assistance to defray the excess cost of transportation to remain at school of origin

School of Origin Regulation

ESSA Title I, Section 1111(g)(1)(E): State plans must include an assurance that students in foster care remain in their school of origin unless it is determined that this is not in the student’s best interest.

Transportation to School of Origin Requirements

ESSA Title I, Section 1112(c)(5): States and district must work in collaboration with child welfare agencies to ensure transportation of children in foster care to the school of origin.

Transition to ESSA

The changes to foster care requirements, as well as the removal of “awaiting foster care placement” from the definition of “homeless children and youth” go to into effect December 10, 2016. However, States are not required to submit plans that reflect the new requirements until 2017.

The new guidance can be accessed at the USED website. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact us at 425.977.2100, Option 3 or email at support@transact.com.

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About The Author

Dr. David Holbrook is a nationally recognized leader in federal programs administration and monitoring with expertise in Title I,Title III,Native American Education, and Federal Programs. Dr. Holbrook has also worked as a consultant with Title III of the US Department of Education and now serves as Executive Director of Federal Programs for TransACT.