• December 2016
  • Vol. 17, No. 9

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Resources for Implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act

In December 2015, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law. ESSA includes foster care provisions, which take effect December 10, 2016, that emphasize the importance of collaboration and shared decision-making between child welfare and educational agencies to ensure educational stability. These provisions mirror and enhance similar provisions in title IV-E of the Social Security Act, as amended by the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008. Considered together, these laws make clear that the educational stability of children in foster care is a joint responsibility of educational and child welfare agencies.

On June 23, 2016, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education (ED) released joint guidance (PDF - 494 KB) on the foster care provisions of ESSA. In a letter dated July 10, 2016, Administration on Children, Youth and Families' Commissioner Rafael López highlighted key components of the joint guidance and the steps child welfare agencies should take to ensure the effective implementation of ESSA provisions—to include designating education points of contact and notifying the corresponding education agencies of these designations—by December 10, 2016.

The Children's Bureau and ED have various technical assistance resources to help education and child welfare agencies implement ESSA's educational stability provisions by the December 10, 2016, deadline:

ED-HHS Joint Guidance: Ensuring Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care
ED and HHS issued joint guidance for education and child welfare agencies to use as they establish new partnerships and implement ESSA's educational stability provisions. These materials include promising practices from the field and an accompanying letter to Chief State School Officers and Child Welfare Directors (PDF - 201 KB).

ED-HHS Webinar Series: Ensuring Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care
ED and HHS cohosted a series of webinars on the educational stability joint guidance between July and September 2016. In these webinars, representatives from ED and HHS discussed ESSA's educational stability requirements and corresponding provisions from the joint guidance, and representatives from child welfare agencies, education agencies, and partner organizations shared lessons learned through their respective early implementation efforts. Recordings of each webinar and copies of each webinar presentation can be accessed via ED's ESSA webpage. These resources are open source and can be shared broadly. Please find below a short description of each webinar:

  • "An Overview of the ED–HHS Joint Guidance" (July 27, 2016)
    This webinar provided an overview of the provisions of the nonregulatory joint guidance and featured insight from the American Bar Association's Legal Center on Foster Care and Education.
  • "Education and Child Welfare Points of Contact" (August 17, 2016)
    This webinar focused on the ESSA requirements related to establishing points of contact at State and local educational agencies and child welfare agencies. This webinar also featured representatives from the Colorado Department of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, and the Allegheny County Department of Human Services.
  • "Best Interest Determinations and Immediate Enrollment" (August 24, 2016)
    This webinar focused on the ESSA requirements related to schools of origin, conducting best interest determinations, and immediate enrollment procedures. This webinar also featured representatives from the Legal Aid Justice Center, Project HOPE–Virginia, and the Vermont Agency of Human Resources.
  • "Transportation Procedures" (August 31, 2016)
    This webinar focused on the ESSA requirements related to transportation services for children in foster care and featured representatives from the San Diego County Office of Education and the Washington, DC, Child and Family Services Agency.
  • "Effective Collaboration" (September 7, 2016)
    This webinar focused on the effective collaboration between education and child welfare agencies required to successfully support the educational stability of children in foster care. This webinar also featured representatives from the American Bar Association's Legal Center on Foster Care and Education, the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, and the Supreme Court of Texas Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families.

The Child Welfare Information Gateway Educational Stability Webpage
This webpage includes over 40 different State and local examples of how child welfare agencies are supporting youth in the following areas: immediate enrollment, best interest determination, school transportation, joint collaboration, and data sharing. These resources are open source and can be shared broadly. 

The Children's Bureau also continues to provide technical assistance expertise through the Capacity Building Center for States. For further information, please contact the liaison assigned to your jurisdiction.
 

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