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February 2013Vol. 14, No. 1Congress Passes Foster Care Education Bill

On January 1, 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that amends the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), improving information sharing between education and child welfare agencies. The Uninterrupted Scholars Act (USA) was approved by the U.S. Senate on December 30, 2012, and signed into law by President Obama on January 14, 2013. The legislation could eliminate several legal hurdles for child welfare professionals.

FERPA, enacted in 1974, protects the privacy of student education records by giving certain rights to parents. These rights are transferred to the student when he or she turns 18 and attends a school beyond high school. The law, however, often creates problems for children in foster care by prohibiting child welfare professionals with whom the children work, including their attorneys, access to basic educational information. Challenges such as transferring schools, which is common for children in care, may be eased with better information sharing.

More information about the new changes to FERPA is available in the December 30, 2012, issue of The Chronicle of Social Change: