FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Resources Now Available to Better Support Students in Foster Care by Increasing Opportunities for Them to Remain in the Same School
NYSED & NYSOCFS Provide Guidance to Schools & Social Services Agencies to Provide Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care
Resources designed to better support students in foster care by increasing opportunities for them to remain in the same school are now available to schools and social services agencies, the State Department of Education and State Office of Children and Family Services announced today. Building on the requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act and the Education of Children in Foster Care State law passed in 2018, the toolkit and guidance are a culmination of 18 months of collaboration among the State agencies, local departments of social services and educational providers.
“Children in foster care must make an often difficult transition to adapt to a new home and new caregivers,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “With these new resources, schools and local agencies are better equipped to support children in foster care by keeping them in their schools with familiar faces, friends and role models.”
“Children need support to help them cope with life’s major challenges and there may be no greater challenge for a child than to be removed from all that is familiar to them,” State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said. “Research shows children in foster care do not do as well in school. By working collaboratively at the local level so these students remain with the teachers, counselors and peers they know is one small yet significant way we can help lessen the burden of a tumultuous event in a child’s life.”
“Stability is of paramount importance for children, and is especially important for foster children, who have already experienced the trauma of parental and family separation,” said acting Office of Children and Family Services Commissioner Sheila J. Poole. “A child’s school is not only a place of academic learning. It is the place where friendships are made, role models are found, and the path to a bright future is paved. Through this toolkit and guidance, social services departments and school districts will work collaboratively to keep children in foster care in their own schools where they can succeed academically and socially with teachers and students that are familiar to them.”
This toolkit and guidance help prepare school districts, charter schools and local departments of social services to meet the needs of children placed in foster care by creating processes and relationships among the local agencies. A consistent process with clearly defined roles and timelines will provide for the needs of these students in a timely and appropriate manner.
Collaboration among local agencies is necessary to ensure that a child is transported to the school determined to be in the child’s best interest so educational stability is maintained. The toolkit explains the requirements of ESSA and the new State law and provides school districts, charter schools and local departments of social services with instructions to facilitate transparent communication among local agencies as they work to meet the educational needs of students in foster care.
Research shows that compared to their peers, children in foster care have higher rates of grade retention, lower scores on standardized tests, higher rates of absenteeism, tardiness and truancy, and are more likely to drop out of school. Keeping children in the same school when they have been removed from home maintains connections with teachers, friends, school nurses, school counselors, coaches and extracurricular activities, and provides consistency in curriculum. Students who feel connected to their schools are more likely to succeed academically and graduate, less likely to be truant, be involved in fighting and bullying, and are less likely to use substances or become pregnant.
Children in foster care also experience three to four changes in placements while in care and, on average, experience one to two placement changes per year. Changing schools disrupts students’ exposure to key concepts and is linked to lower tests scores, repeating grades and dropping out of school.
Requiring local child welfare and educational agencies to work together to provide educational stability for children in foster care is one of several strategies to help develop healthy children so they are ready and able to be successful in school and become contributing citizens to society later in life.
NYSED will provide a statewide educational session regarding the new State law for local social services agencies, school districts and charter schools later this month.
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