Foster Care

NCHE Resources

A Look at Child Welfare from a Homeless Education Perspective

Although navigating the child welfare system can be daunting for those working in the field of homeless education, local liaisons and others must determine whether children in the child welfare system are eligible for McKinney-Vento services and collaborate with child welfare staff. This document provides an overview of the U.S. child welfare system, the challenges children in care face, and practices to ensure their educational best interest.
Download A Look at Child Welfare from a Homeless Education Perspective.

Sample Forms, Materials, and Policies

California Assembly Bill 490

Assembly Bill 490 (AB 490) is a California state law ensuring educational rights and stability for foster youth.
View the California Assembly Bill 490.

California Assembly Bill 1393

This California laws requires state universities and community colleges to give priority for student housing to current and former foster youth, including for housing facilities that are open for year-round occupation.
View the California Assembly Bill 1393.

Maine Education Bill 257

This Maine state law, formally entitled An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Task Force To Engage Maine's Youth Regarding Successful School Completion, gives homeless students, students in foster care, and other students experiencing educational disruption, the opportunity to earn a diploma from the State Education Commissioner. Students are still required to demostrate proficiency according to state standards, but are given the opportunity to earn a diploma outside of a school district's standard procedures.
Download the Maine Education Bill 257.

Texas Education Code 25.001(f)

This state law reads: "A child placed in foster care by an agency of the state or by a political subdivision shall be permitted to attend the public schools in the district in which the foster parents reside free of any charge to the foster parents or the agency. A durational residence requirement may not be used to prohibit that child from fully participating in any activity sponsored by the school district." The durational residence requirement portion will enable foster students to participate fully in all school activities regardless of how long they've lived in their current foster placement.
View the Texas Education Code 25.001(f) (scroll down to (f)).

Other Resources

Adoption and Foster Care Statistics and Research

Provided through the Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, AFCARS collects case level information on all children in foster care for whom state child welfare agencies have responsibility for placement, care or supervision, and on children who are adopted under the auspices of the State's public child welfare agency.
Visit the Adoption and Foster Care Statistics and Research website.

Asking the Right Questions II: Judicial Checklists to Meet the Educational Needs of Children and Youth in Foster Care

This guidebook, courtesy of National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges with support from Casey Family Programs, is a revision of the original Asking the Right Questions guidebook published in 2005. This updated guidebook is a tool that judges can use to make inquiries about the educational needs of children and youth under their jurisdiction, with the goal of positively impacting their educational outcomes and preparing them for successful adulthood.
Download Asking the Right Questions II: Judicial Checklists to Meet the Educational Needs of Children and Youth in Foster Care.

Children at Risk in the Child Welfare System: Collaborations to Promote School Readiness

This report from the Catherine E. Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy at the University of Southern Maine examines current practice across systems in order to determine the degree to which the educational needs of children younger than five in the child welfare system are being addressed through collaborations between child welfare agencies, early intervention/preschool special education programs under IDEA, and quality early care and education programs. The report also identifies best practices and policy recommendations for how the multiple agencies which provide these services can coordinate their efforts better.
Download Children at Risk in the Child Welfare System: Collaborations to Promote School Readiness.

Courtroom Advocacy for the Education Needs of Children in Out-of-Home Care

This 2-page tip sheet from the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education serves as a primer on which educational issues are particularly important to address in the courtroom for children in out-of-home care and provides specific recommendations for different role groups, including: Guardians ad Litem (GALs), Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs), attorneys, and judges.
Download Courtroom Advocacy for the Education Needs of Children in Out-of-Home Care.

Foster Care Transition Toolkit

This toolkit from the U.S. Department of Education provides information on useful supports for foster youth pursuing college and career opportunities. While geared towards foster youth, many of the resources are equally appropriate for homeless youth, including the toolkit's chapter on securing housing.
Download the Foster Care Transition Toolkit.

FosterClub's Transition Toolkit

This FosterClub toolkit provides an overview of the skills, knowledge, and resources needed for young people leaving foster care to prepare for life on their own as young adults. The included transition plan provides a space to write down and keep track of all available resources. The toolkit puts young people in the driver's seat in planning for and working towards their future. While designed with students transitioning from foster care in mind, the toolkit can be a valuable resource for all young people, including youth experiencing homelessness.
Download FosterClub's Transition Toolkit.

Fostering Success in Education: National Factsheet on the Educational Outcomes of Children in Foster Care

This publication from the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education provides a review of research, laws, and promising programs impacting the educational success of children in foster care. It consists of four sections that can individually or collectively inform advocates, policymakers, agency leaders, and other stakeholders. Sections include: 1) A brief data-at-a-glance summary about the educational outcomes of students in foster care; 2) A summary of select federal policies that support educational stability and success and increased data collection and reporting; 3) A comprehensive review of the studies and research related to the education of students in foster care; and 4) An overview of promising data-supported programs or interventions around the country designed to benefit students in foster care.
Download Fostering Success in Education: National Factsheet on the Educational Outcomes of Children in Foster Care.

Postsecondary Education Resources for Youth in and Transitioning out of the Child Welfare System

This information brief from the Legal Center on Foster Care and Education explains barriers that youth in and transitioning out of the foster care system may face in accessing higher education and provides information on supports and opportunities available to assist these youth in meeting their higher education goals.
Download Postsecondary Education Resources for Youth in and Transitioning out of the Child Welfare System.

Serving Former Foster Youth in California Community Colleges
 
This report from the Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges provides for a better understanding of the needs of emancipated foster youth enrolled at community colleges; examines successful responses to student needs from community colleges statewide; identifies challenges faced by community colleges in meeting student needs; and makes recommendations as to how programs can be enhanced, expanded, and improved. It summarizes key findings from a survey of Foster Youth Liaisons at community colleges statewide, a survey of community college students who are former foster youth, and interviews with staff at 12 colleges across the state, and presents a list of recommendations on how to strengthen efforts at both the state and local level to serve former foster youth attending community colleges.

Special Education Tools and Resources
 
This webpage from the Legal Center on Foster Care and Education, designed for specific stakeholders, addresses the issues surrounding special education decisionmaking for children in out-of-home care. The webpage includes issue briefs and factsheets for caseworkers, children's attorneys, educators, foster parents, judges, and youth.
Visit the Special Education Tools and Resources webpage.

Supporting Success: Improving Higher Education Outcomes for Students from Foster Care (A framework for program enhancement)
 
Few students from foster care ever gain access to higher education programs, let alone graduate from college. Colleges and universities can help youth succeed. Colleges, policymakers, and advocates have begun to address this issue with calls for policy advances, practice innovations, and influential advocacy. This Casey Family Programs publication provides program development tools for college counselors, administrators, professors, and staff. It helps education professionals define a plan for improving their institution's support for students from foster care.
Download Supporting Success: Improving Higher Education Outcomes for Students from Foster Care.

The Texas Blueprint: Transforming Education Outcomes for Children and Youth in Foster Care
 
This report from the Texas Children's Commission is the culmination of many months of hard work and collaboration, lead by the Supreme Court of Texas' Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families. Stemming from a Supreme Court order issued in 2010, an Education Committee was formed and charged with making recommendations for statewide reform in several key areas including: judicial practices, data and information sharing, multidisciplinary training, and creating and sustaining a statewide collaborative model.
Download The Texas Blueprint: Transforming Education Outcomes for Children and Youth in Foster Care.