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INFORMATIONAL LETTER NO.:   21

POLICY CODE:   JIBC

 

TO:                Superintendents of Schools, Group Home Providers

FROM:          Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner

DATE:           August 30, 2005

SUBJECT:     P.L. 2005, Chapter 309 (formerly LD 1136) – An Act to Implement the Recommendations of the Legislative Youth Advisory Council

During the past legislative session the Maine Legislative Youth Advisory Council sponsored and passed legislation to normalize the school lives of children and youth in foster care.   Council members had met with youth in foster care where they discussed the problems occurring when youth in foster care had to get their Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) caseworkers to sign off on all permission slips in order to participate in field trips, athletics or extracurricular activities.  Often permission slips were sent out without much notice and caseworkers were difficult to reach, resulting in many youth in foster care missing out on important school activities when permission slips were not turned in on time.

P.L. 2005, Chapter 309 provides a form covering athletic and/or field trip events and a risk warning.   The form was prepared by the Office of the Attorney General and approved by the Office of Risk Management to ensure that DHHS’ and school administrative units’ liability issues were addressed.

Previously the DHHS caseworker was required to sign off on every permission form. The new law allows the caseworker to sign off one time per school year for the child or youth to participate in school activities.

However, in order to inform foster parents and group home staff of upcoming activities, schools are asked to send out permission slips to students in foster care, as they do for all of their students.   Foster parents or group home providers must then sign off acknowledging that they are aware of the upcoming activity.  If a student changes schools during the academic year, the caseworker will have to sign another reauthorization form and forward it to the new school that the student is attending.

DHHS caseworkers have been instructed to send the form to the superintendent’s office; if your school district would prefer that the form be sent directly to the student’s school, you may contact your regional DHHS Program Administrator, to make this arrangement.

If you have any questions about the implementation of this new practice you may contact Nancy Connolly at 624-6671 or nancy.connolly@maine.gov or Chris Leighton, Attorney General’s office at 626-8540 or chris.leighton@maine.gov

 

SAG/NC/ po

Athletics Field Trip Risk Warning Form