The California Countywide Foster Youth Services Program is based on Assembly Bill 490, and follow-up legislation, to provide education support for students living in foster care placements ages 4-21. The County Office of Education provides assistance to school districts, child welfare, probation, CASA, local colleges and various other foster youth serving community agencies.
Definition of Students Living in Foster Care Placement A foster youth is defined as any child who has been removed from the custody of their parent(s) or guardian(s) by the juvenile court, and placed in a group home or foster home. The child is under the direct supervision of a county social worker or probation officer.
Services The countywide coordinator works with school district and agency staff to track and serve students living in foster care placements for academic success. Each school district is required to appoint a district liaison to coordinate services at their schools.
Legal Definition: If a child enrolling in schools resides in a foster care home, school staff must immediately enroll the child, even if the foster parent or guardian is unable to produce records, clothing or supplies required for enrollment. This includes previous academic records, medical records, proof of residency, school uniforms or any other required documents. EC 48853.5(d) (4) (B)
Application: Foster parents must still submit all required documents, but children may not be denied access to school in the interim. Registrars may ask for documentation showing the child has been removed from their home and placed in foster care. Some exceptions to these rules may apply due to confidentiality and safety of all parties. Please contact the district liaison with questions.
Legal Definition: At the initial detention or placement, or any subsequent change in residential placement of a foster child, the local educational agency serving the foster child shall allow the foster child to continue his or her education in the school or origin for the duration of the school year if remaining in that school is in the child’s best interest. EC 48853.5(d)(1)
Application: If a child is removed from their home and placed in foster care outside the attendance area for a school site, the child has a right to remain in their school. Updated legislation allows them to stay in their school of origin for the duration of their foster care placement, if it is determined to be in their best interest. For students in foster care, a residential change does not necessarily signal a school change. Decisions made in the child’s best interest are done by staff from child welfare and the school.
The Uninterrupted Scholars Act makes it easier for case workers to gain access to school records and allows them to disclose the information for the limited purpose of assisting a child in obtaining the educational services he or she needs. The USA Act strikes a balance, allowing schools to share information in a targeted way with child welfare agencies, while still protecting family rights and student confidentiality.
Case workers need immediate access to education information to help foster youth succeed in school. Before the passage of the USA Act, students often suffered from delays while child welfare workers tried to access school records. The USA Act makes it easier for the child welfare agency to get the education records that will tell them when a youth is struggling in school, so case workers can collaborate with educators to figure out what the child needs.
Each public school district and county office of education shall accept for credit full or partial coursework satisfactorily completed by a pupil while attending a public school, juvenile court school, or Nonpublic, nonsectarian school or agency. EC 48645.5 http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/pf/fy/partialcredit.asp