The bill aligns state law with federal 'Every Student Succeeds Act' (ESSA) provisions relating to students in foster care, referred to in state statutes as 'students in out-of-home placement'. ESSA permits students in out-of-home placement at any time during the school year to remain in their school of origin, as defined in the bill, rather than move to a different school upon placement outside of the home or changes in placement, unless the county department of human or social services (county department) determines that it is not in the child's best interest to remain in his or her school of origin. Specifically, the bill:
- Defines 'education provider' to include public schools, school districts, and boards of cooperative services;
- Clarifies the role of an education provider's child welfare education liaison with respect to the best interest determination, the transfer of records, transition planning, and immediate enrollment of the child or youth;
- Subject to available appropriations, establishes a permanent foster care education coordinator at the department of education with duties beginning in the 2019-20 fiscal year;
- Requires education providers to immediately enroll students in out-of-home placement in school even without academic and immunization records and includes provisions for requesting and receiving records from a sending school;
- Requires education providers and county departments to enter into agreements relating to how transportation and other necessary services for students in out-of-home placement will be provided, arranged, and funded; and
- Removes barriers to obtaining a high school diploma by allowing education providers to waive course requirements or provide competency-based measures to satisfy graduation requirements.
Commencing with the 2019-20 fiscal year, the bill creates the educational stability grant program (grant program) in the department of education to provide, subject to available appropriations, grants to education providers to provide educational services and supports to highly mobile students. The state board of education shall adopt rules for the grant program and award the grants. The department of education shall report on the implementation and outcomes of the grant program.
The bill requires county departments to develop a process for determining the best interests of a child or youth in remaining in the school of origin. Counties are required to provide services, including transportation, for students remaining in the school of origin and services for those students transferring to another school, and to enter into agreements with education providers regarding the provision of these services and funding for the services.
The bill updates the definition of 'homeless child' to include children and youth and amends education statutes relating to school attendance and services for homeless children and youth.
The bill makes an appropriation.
(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)