• November 2011
  • Vol. 12, No. 8

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Free School Meals for Children in Foster Care

Due to the recently signed Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, it is easier for school districts to enroll foster children for free school meals. Children in foster care are now automatically eligible to receive free school meals, regardless of household income, and they can remain enrolled for the entire school year, even if they leave foster care during the year. Because of this, the process of school districts enrolling foster children into this program is simplified.

An article written by Nate Frentz and Zoe Neuberger for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities covers six tips on how to take advantage of this new Act, so that families can receive the best opportunities possible:

  • Directly certify children in foster care for free school meals by matching data from foster care agencies or a court with student data.
  • Use the notification that schools receive from child welfare caseworkers or a court of a child's foster status to certify the child for free school meals.
  • Revise school meals applications to reflect the categorical eligibility of children in foster care for free school meals and the potential benefit to the foster family of including children in foster care on the same school meals application as other children in the household.
  • Notify foster parents that their children in foster care are eligible for free school meals and explain how to apply for benefits.
  • Maintain certification when a child in foster care changes schools by transferring the certification for free meals to the new school.
  • Relieve foster families of paperwork if an application with a child in foster care is selected for verification by obtaining documentation of the child's foster care status directly from a foster care agency or court (or by allowing foster parents to provide contact information for an appropriate third party who can verify the child's foster status, such as a social worker).

The full article, Six Ways that States and School Districts Can Make It Easier for Children in Foster Care to Get Free Meals at School, can be found on the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities website:

http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3559

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