On December 10, 2015 the President signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA), which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The Every Student Succeeds Act establishes new protections for children in foster care under Title I, Part A (Title I). These provisions complement the requirements of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Fostering Connections Act) and further promote the purpose of Title I – to ensure that all children receive a high-quality education and to close achievement gaps between student groups. Together these laws strengthen opportunities for educational agencies and child welfare agencies to jointly determine the most effective practices to remove enrollment barriers and promote school stability and success for students.
Joint guidance from the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services about implementation of the foster care provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was released on June 23, 2016. This link, http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/essa/index.html will guide you to a 28-page guidance document as well as to two Dear Colleague Letters. The document delivers a strong message that the unique needs of children in foster care must be addressed. These provisions went into effect December 10, 2016, at which time state and local child welfare and education agencies began conversations about their shared responsibility to support the school stability and success of students in foster care. The foster care provisions of ESSA, coupled with the school stability provisions of the Fostering Connections Act, envision shared responsibility for school stability and success between child welfare and education agencies. This joint guidance offers details about the requirements under the new law, provides examples from around the country about “what’s working” to support students in foster care, and will be a critical resource in implementation efforts.