• September 2014
  • Vol. 15, No. 8

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Associate Commissioner's Page

The following is the monthly message from JooYeun Chang, the Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau. Each message focuses on the current CBX Spotlight theme and highlights the Bureau's work on the topic.

As children and youth across the country begin another school year, the Children's Bureau is continuing our work to help children and youth involved with child welfare overcome barriers to academic success. Children and youth in foster care are as gifted and able to succeed in school as their friends and neighbors not in care but they may have emotional, behavioral, developmental, and cognitive issues that hinder their ability to perform well in school. To help promote the educational stability and success of this vulnerable population, the Children's Bureau funded two clusters of discretionary grants in 2011.

The Child Welfare - Early Education Partnerships to Expand Protective Factors for Children With Child Welfare Involvement grants support collaboration between child welfare and early childhood systems to maximize enrollment, attendance, and supports of infants and young children in foster care into high-quality early care and education programs. One such project, the Los Angeles Child Welfare-Early Education Partners Infrastructure Project, worked to increase referrals to and enrollment in early childhood education services for children involved with child welfare through increased data sharing across systems. An electronic referral system now notifies Department of Children and Family Services workers of Head Start eligibility for children on their caseloads and allows them to easily refer children. More information on this project is available on the website for the Bureau's information clearinghouse, Child Welfare Information Gateway: https://www.childwelfare.gov/management/funding/funding_sources/sitevisits/lainfrastructure.cfm#page=summary

The Child Welfare - Education System Collaborations to Increase Educational Stability grants support collaborative initiatives between State, local, or Tribal child welfare agencies and education systems to improve educational stability and permanency outcomes for youth ages 10–17 who are in or at-risk of entering out-of-home care. Site visit reports from projects within this discretionary grant cluster are available here: https://www.childwelfare.gov/management/funding/funding_sources/edcollaborations.cfm

Congress has taken action to improve the educational stability of children and youth in foster care. The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, among other provisions, requires child welfare agencies to coordinate efforts with education agencies to keep children enrolled in their current school while in foster care. This ensures children in care stay connected with family, teachers, and friends. In May of this year, the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services sent a joint letter to States about the ongoing collaboration and cross-system coordination between the two agencies that will improve the educational outcomes and well-being of these students. The letter outlines specific obligations for State educational agencies (SEAs), State child welfare agencies (SCWAs), and local educational agencies (LEAs) in implementing the educational provisions of the Fostering Connections Act. Read the letter here:

https://view.officeapps.live.com/op/view.aspx?src=http%3A%2F%2Fwww2.ed.gov%2Fabout%2Finits%2Fed%2Ffoster-care%2Ffostering-connections-letter.doc

Another Federal effort to enhance the educational success of children and youth in care is the Uninterrupted Scholars Act of 2013, which amends the General Education Provisions Act (commonly known as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)). The Uninterrupted Scholars Act allows educational agencies and institutions to disclose personally identifiable information from the education records of students in foster care, without parental consent, to caseworkers or other representatives of State, local, or Tribal child welfare agency "when such agency or organization is legally responsible, in accordance with State or Tribal law, for the care and protection of the student." This important amendment mirrors work done through the Los Angeles Child Welfare-Early Education Partners Infrastructure Project and other Bureau-funded projects to increase collaboration and communication among child welfare and educational agencies.

My colleague, Johan Uvin, Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, authored a guest article in this issue of CBX that highlights his department's efforts and resources to help bolster the educational success of children in foster care. 

Another article in this issue of CBX highlights Federal funding to help youth currently and formerly in foster care pay for college and career training programs.

Every child deserves the right to a quality education and a chance to succeed—from preschool through college. It's important that the Federal Government collaborate with State and local agencies to improve educational outcomes and enhance the educational stability of students in foster care, thereby enhancing their overall well-being.

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