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July 2016Vol. 17, No. 5New Federal Guidance: Educational Stability of Children in Foster Care

For children in foster care already experiencing family trauma, separation, and instability, school interruptions can have adverse consequences on their educational achievement and long-term success. The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Fostering Connections) included provisions designed to increase the educational stability of children in foster care. In December 2015, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). Title I, part A of the reauthorized ESEA contains foster care provisions—complementing and mirroring Fostering Connections provisions—that focus on the vital role of collaboration and joint decision-making between child welfare and educational agencies in ensuring educational stability for children in care.

The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and of Education developed joint, nonregulatory guidance to assist State and local education agencies in meeting their ESEA obligations. The guidance does the following:

  • Clarifies the new foster care provisions under title I, part A of the reauthorized ESEA—to include providing clarity on school of origin, the best interest determination, transportation plans, immediate enrollment and records transfer, State and local points of contact, student data and privacy, and interagency collaboration
  • Highlights the connections between the new provisions and Fostering Connections
  • Provides recommendations to strengthen collaborations between State and local educational and child welfare agencies
  • Includes promising practices from the field that have emerged since the passage of Fostering Connections

To access Non-Regulatory Guidance: Ensuring Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care, as well as Dear Colleague letters on foster care guidance and timelines, visit the Children's Bureau's website at