A quality education is critical to any child’s well-being and future success. For youth in foster care, a quality education depends on the support and collaboration of both the Arkansas Division of Children and Family Services and the Arkansas Department of Education. Indeed, both child welfare and education law compels each system to support the educational needs of children in foster care, as outlined in the Fostering Connections Act and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as reauthorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
On December 10, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The law requires states to ensure protections for vulnerable youth in the foster care and juvenile justice systems. These include school stability and transportation, mandatory data reporting, and agency collaboration.
ESSA Implementation Toolkit: Find this resource along with resources and webinars on the Fostering Connections Act within the Educational Stability page of the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education website.
Foster Care Liaison
Pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. § 9-28-113, every school district must identify a foster care liaison and must provide annually to the Arkansas Department of Education the name of each foster care liaison and his or her contact information.
To comply with this requirement, districts submit this information via Arkansas Public School Computer Network (APSCN) by entering the name and contact information of the foster care liaison into the Statewide Information System (SIS), Contact Person (CO) Table. Please refer to the SIS Manual for further information on this submission.
The statute provides that all individuals who are directly involved in the care, custody and education of foster children work together to ensure the continuity of education services so that foster children:
remain in their schools of current enrollment whenever possible,
are moved to new schools in a timely manner when it is determined to be necessary, appropriate, and in their best interests,
participate in appropriate educational programs, and
have access to the academic resources, services, and extracurricular activities available to all students.
Specifically, the District Foster Care Liaison:
serves as primary point of contact for facilitating the transfer of records and immediate enrollment,
leads the development of a process for making the best interest determination,
develops and coordinates local transportation procedures,
facilitates data sharing with the local child welfare agency, consistent with FERPA and other privacy protocols, and
provides training to school staff on ESSA foster care provisions and the educational needs of children in foster care.
Legal Center for Foster Care and Education: The American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, the Education Law Center, and the Juvenile Law Center joined forces to provide advocacy, training, technical assistance and a central clearinghouse of information on foster care and education.
Child Welfare Information Gateway: Child Welfare Information Gateway connects professionals and the general public to timely, essential information and resources targeted to the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families.
Casey Family Programs: Casey Family Programs works to influence long-lasting improvements to the safety and success of children, families and the communities where they live. They provide consulting services to child welfare systems; direct services to children and families; public policy resources; and research and analysis.
Child Welfare League of America: CWLA leads and engages its network of public and private agencies and partners to advance policies, best practices and collaborative strategies that result in better outcomes for children, youth and families that are vulnerable.
Foster Care to College: Online Resources: From national scholarships and state tuition waivers to housing assistance and on-campus programs, learn where to find help getting to and through college as a former foster care youth.
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges: To assist juvenile and family court judges and system professionals, the NCJFCJ has developed focus areas for its professional resources that include child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, family law, juvenile justice, mental health, research, military families, technical assistance, and tribal resources.
Succeed Scholarship: The Succeed Scholarship Program, Ark. Code Ann. § 6-41-801 et seq., provides a scholarship to an eligible private school for students with disabilities that have an individualized education program (IEP), individualized service plan (ISP), and students in foster care living in a group home or facility that meet eligibility requirements.
Uninterrupted Scholars Act: Find guidance on the amendments to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act by the Uninterrupted Scholars Act of 2014.
USDA Memo for Foster Care Eligibility for Free Lunch: This memorandum provides additional questions and answers and clarification to update Categorical Eligibility of Foster Children, dated March 16, 2011. In addition, the HHFKA amended Section 9(b)(5) of the NSLA to allow certification of children in foster care for free meals, without application, if the local educational agency (LEA) or other institution administering a Child Nutrition Program obtains documentation from an appropriate State or local agency indicating the status of the child as a child in foster care.
Find the most current district contact information within the ADE Data Center School Personnel Directory by clicking above on Contacts -> Districts -> search by title for Foster Care Liaison Coordinator.