AB 490, Assembly Bill 490 (Steinberg) imposes new duties and rights related to the education of dependents and wards in foster care.
Everyone shares the duty to promote the educational progress of children in and out of home placements.
Educators, school personnel, social workers, probation officers, caregivers, advocates and juvenile court officers must all work together to serve the educational needs of children in foster care.
Foster youth must have access to the same academic resources, services, extra- curricular and enrichment activities available to all students. (Ed Code 48850(a)).
Role of the County Placing Agency
When making out-of- home placements, the placing agency must consider both the placement’s proximity to the child’s present school and the impact the placement will have on the child’s educational stability. (WIC 16501.1(c)).
Role of the School
Educational placements of foster youth must be made to ensure that youth have access to the same resources available to all students, that the educational placement is the least restrictive environment, and that the educational placement in the youth’s best interest. (WIC 361, 726, Ed Code 48853).
Right to remain in school of origin: If the child’s residential placement changes, the school district must allow the child to remain in his/her school of origin for the duration of the school year, provided it is in her best interest to do so. The child’s best interest is determined by the school district’s foster care liaison, the person who holds education rights, and the child. If a dispute arises, the child has the right to remain in her school of origin until the dispute is resolved. (EC 48853.5).
School District Foster Care Liaison
Every school district and County Office of Education must have an educational liaison for foster children. The duties of a liaison are:
To ensure proper school placement, enrollment and checkout from school
To assist with the transfer of grades, credits and records when youth transfer schools
To complete school record transfers within 2 business days. (EC 48853.5).
Preference for Public School
Foster children must attend programs operated by the local education agency unless the child has an IEP requiring a different educational placement, or the person with education rights determines that it is in the child’s best interest to attend a different educational program or to remain in the school of origin. (EC 48853).
The child has the right to be immediately enrolled in the new school without school records, immunization records, uniforms, etc. (EC 48853.5(d)(4)(b)).
Timely Transfer of Records
The timely transfer of records is the responsibility of both the placing agency and the school district. (EC 49069.5).
County Placing Agency
When the case worker or probation officer becomes aware of the need to transfer a student to a new school, he or she must:
Notify the school of the student’s last expected day of attendance
Request the calculation of the student’s educational information
Request the student be transferred out. (EC 49069.5)
Case workers and probation officers may access the child’s school records without parental consent or court order so that they may assist with school transfer or enrollment, compile the child’s health and education summary, or fulfill educational case management duties. (EC 49076).
Protection for Grades and Credits
A foster child’s grades cannot be lowered due to absences caused by a change in placement, attendance at a court hearing, or a court ordered activity. (EC 49069.5).
Schools must award all students (not just foster youth) with credit for full or partial coursework satisfactorily completed at another public school, a juvenile court school, or a non-public, non-sectarian school. (EC 48645.5).