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Educational Stability

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) became law in December 2015, and since that time, leaders in child protection and education have been working to implement provisions relating to foster youth, with the goal of improving their educational stability and ultimately educational success.

Education

The need for action is clear: Foster children are more likely than their peers to be retained in a grade level and to drop out of high school. While the foster care provisions are one small part of the overall law, ESSA makes explicit for the first time that educational stability for foster youth is a shared responsibility between education and child protection. ESSA requires that:

The Ohio departments of Job and Family Services and Education have issued Joint State Guidance covering many aspects of the law’s implementation. By December 10, local education and child protection agencies must collaborate to develop and implement clear written procedures governing: 1) The process for determining best interests of the child for remaining in the home school or moving to a new school; 2) How transportation will be provided and funded to ensure school stability for the duration of the child’s time in foster care; and 3) Dispute resolution in cases where there is disagreement over these matters.

If an agreement on best interests cannot be reached, guidance from the Obama Administration states that the child protection agency make the final call, but the guidance is less clear about which system pays for transportation when a dispute cannot be resolved. According to federal guidance released by the U.S. Department of Education:

Agencies (except ProtectOhio counties) may draw federal funds to support transportation costs for children who are IV-E eligible, but local match must be paid by the agency, although the district may agree to reimburse those costs. Title I federal funds may also be available for certain children. PCSAO is awaiting joint guidance from the Ohio departments of Education and Job and Family Services.

This federal webinar from September 2016 provides additional information about transportation.

What PCSAs Should Do Right Now

Resources