Some Interesting Legislative Updates re: Educational Success for Foster Children
Some recent educational success-based news from Voice For Adoption (VFA), which develops and advocates for improved adoption policies. Kinship Center's Carol Bishop serves on the board of this Washington DC-based agency.
On Thursday, May 31st the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth introduced the "Access to Papers Leads to Uninterrupted Scholars (A+ PLUS)" Act of 2012 (H.R. 5871). Representatives Karen Bass (D-CA), Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), Tom Marino (R-PA) and Jim McDermott (D –WA), who are also co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, introduced the A+ Act.
The bipartisan bill will allow child welfare agencies to help foster youth succeed in school. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), unintentionally hinders the educational success of students in foster care by creating a barrier between school records and the child welfare agencies who are the guardians of these youth. Without access to a student’s records, child welfare agencies and social workers are limited in their ability to advocate for a youth’s educational needs. The A+ PLUS Act will rectify this situation by granting child welfare agencies direct access to school records for youth in the child welfare system.
Last week Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) introduced the Fostering Success in Education Act (H.R. 5868). The bill builds on the educational requirements passed in the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act that became law in 2008. This bill requires states to ensure that their state and local educational agencies and child welfare agencies collaborate to meet the educational needs of children in foster care. It ensures that children in foster care have the right to continue attending the school they were when placed into foster care, unless it is determined that the child’s best interest is otherwise; in that case immediate school enrollment and well-maintained school records are required to be transferred in a timely manner. The bill also requires coordination of free child transportation to and from school. Under the legislation agencies will be required to maintain a complaint management system, as well as an effective system for transferring and recovering school credits of children in foster care.
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