Ensuring Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care in Maine

 

Boy with backpack

 

New Requirements under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015, highlight the need to provide educational stability for children in foster care, with particular emphasis on collaboration between SEAs, LEAs and child welfare agencies to ensure that students in foster care have the opportunity to achieve at the same high level as their peers. These provisions emphasize the importance of limiting educational disruption by keeping children who move in foster care (due to entering the foster care system or changing placements) in their school of origin, unless it is determined to be in their best interest to change schools. These provisions also ensure that, if it is not in their best interest to remain in their schools of origin, children in foster care are enrolled in their new schools without delay. In implementing these provisions, SEAs, LEAs and child welfare agencies must ensure compliance with other applicable laws, such as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), among others. 

Taken in totality, these provisions promote greater stability for children in foster care so that they can continue their education without disruption, maintain important relationships with peers and adults, and have the opportunity to achieve college-and-career readiness. 

 

What is the definition of a student in foster care?

Students who are in:

  • 24-hour out-of-home care, placed away from their parents or guardians, and for whom DHHS has placement and care responsibilities.
  • Including students previously identified as “awaiting foster care” (in emergency, short term placements) under McKinney-Vento
  • Foster homes include, but are not limited to: Group homes, foster homes, kinship foster homes, Transitional care units (TCUs)

What are the educational rights of students in foster care?

  • Right to the school of origin, including transportation
  • Best Interest Determination
  • Immediate Enrollment

Who can I contact?

DHHS has Regional Points of Contact that can be located here.

Each school district has a District Point of Contact that can be found here.

For general questions, contact Amelia Lyons, Statewide Foster Care Point of Contact at the DOE.