The U.S. Department of Education developed resources to emphasize and support the needs of foster care children/students. ED has launched a dedicated web page, Students in Foster Care, and issued a joint letter with the U.S. Department of Health Human Services to education authorities about increasing educational stability for children and youth in foster care.
The guidance makes it easier for caseworkers, child welfare agencies and tribal organizations responsible for the placement and care of children in foster care to have direct access to their education records. The guidance provides information on how to implement the Uninterrupted Scholars Act (USA), an amendment to The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). It also details the amendment's impact on the confidentiality provisions in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The guidance will help states improve educational and developmental outcomes for children in foster care by providing authorized agencies with access to the records they need to meet the early intervention or educational needs of the students. The USA amends FERPA in the following two ways:
- First, it permits educational agencies and institutions to disclose students' education records to authorized child welfare agency representatives and tribal organizations.
- Second, the USA also allows educational agencies and institutions to disclose students' education records to authorized child welfare agency representatives and tribal organizations following a judicial order, without requiring additional notice to the parent.
DES/AzEIP continues to work with the newly created Department of Child Safety (DCS) to support children in foster care to receive supports and services to promote their growth and development. DCS specialists may request records by using Form 1048 LTHFF to obtain information when investigating allegations of abuse or neglect and believe that child's or another individual's health and/or safety is at risk, or Form 1061A LTHFF when a child is in the care and legal custody of DCS.
Only when a DCS specialist submits one of those two forms, may an AzEIP team member release information about a child without consent from the family. Please see AzEIP Chapter 3 Early Intervention Services Policies & Procedures and Chapter 7 for more on coordinating care when DCS is involved. AzEIP team members mustrecord all releases of records in the Child Record using the records release log.