Hi everyone! In our last Foster Care Meeting we discussed the importance of identifying and tracking students in foster care. We also discussed the challenges we face trying to do so effectively, like accessing current data and coordinating with other agencies. One of my goals for the 2022-2023 school year is to improve this process.
Data is a critical part of supporting students in foster care. Due to the unique challenges these students face outside of school, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Fostering Connections) prioritizes the educational and emotional needs of students. Achieving academic success can be difficult without support from teachers, administrators, counselors, education agencies, child welfare agencies, and courts. Compared to their peers who are not in foster care, students in foster care are:
Nearly twice as likely to not graduate from high school;
Less likely to go to a 4-year college;
Nearly twice as likely to have been held back in school;
More likely to have disciplinary referrals and absenteeism;
More likely to perform below grade level.
To best support our students, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires local education agencies (LEAs) and child welfare agencies (CWAs) to work together to collaborate and to create a systemic method of communication. Sharing data between LEAs and CWAs is a critical aspect of fostering partnership among agencies, so they can better serve the educational needs of students in foster care. When collecting school related data, LEAs should be made aware of which students are currently in foster care and which students have exited. CWAs have access to school records, as well. The Uninterrupted Scholars Act (USA) allows caseworkers or other child welfare organization representatives to access student records if they are legally responsible for the student, with or without parental consent. When LEAs and CWAs have access to necessary data, they work together to support students achieve their academic goals.