New requirements under Title I of the ESEA, as amended by the ESSA, highlight the need to provide educational stability for children in foster care, with particular emphasis on collaboration between SEAs, LEAs, and child welfare agencies to ensure that students in foster care have the opportunity to achieve at the same high levels as their peers. These provisions emphasize the importance of limiting educational disruption by keeping children who move in foster care (due to entering the foster care system or changing placements) in their schools of origin, unless it is determined to be in their best interest to change schools. These provisions also ensure that, if it is not in their best interest to remain in their schools of origin, children in foster care are enrolled in their new schools without delay. In implementing these provisions, SEAs, LEAs, and child welfare agencies must ensure compliance with other applicable laws, such as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), among others. Taken in totality, these provisions promote greater stability for children in foster care so that they can continue their education without disruption, maintain important relationships with peers and adults, and have the opportunity to achieve college- and career-readiness. The Clarkton C-4 School District has designated Melanie Tipton, (573) 448-3712, as the Foster Care Liaison.
School of origin is defined as the school in which a child is enrolled at the time of placement in foster care. School districts and Children’s Division must ensure that a child in foster care enrolls or remains in his or her school of origin unless a determination is made that it is not in the child’s best interest. (ESEA section 1111(g)(1)(E)(i)). If a child’s foster care placement changes, the school of origin would then be considered the school in which the child is enrolled at the time of the placement change.
Certain factors should be considered when determining if it is in a child’s best interest to remain in his or her school of origin, the Foster Care Liaisons between the two districts, the Children’s Division case manger, foster parents, biological parents (if applicable), juvenile officer, etc. takes into consideration all factors relating to a child’s best interest.
These factors include the appropriateness of the current educational setting and proximity of placement. Though the specific factors may vary depending on context, in order to make a holistic and well-informed determination, a variety of student-centered factors should be considered. These factors may include:
Transportation costs should not be considered when determining a child’s best interest.