The start of a new school year can be an exciting time for a student, but for a student in foster care, additional steps and guidance may be needed to ensure a positive experience and educational success. Below are several resources to help guide child welfare professionals, caregivers, attorneys, and judges through intersecting issues in child welfare and education.
Foster Care and Student Success Guide 2022
The Texas Education Agency (TEA), in collaboration with the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and the Children’s Commission, recently updated the Foster Care & Student Success Guide. The 2022 version of the guide contains current resources and materials and includes new chapters on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and Trauma-Informed Education. The TEA website includes a broad overview of each chapter for easy navigating and exploration of specific topics. TEA also launched a supplemental online Training Series on the guide; prior training sessions are archived and available for review and new sessions are open for registration.
Students in Residential Treatment Centers
Subject matter experts in foster care and education developed a Top 10 “Things to Know” series to address the educational needs of students in foster care who are placed in Residential Treatment Centers (RTCs). There are three lists in the series: one for providers, one for educators, and one for legal professionals – each developed to raise awareness and provide a basic introduction to the educational considerations for each intended audience. Each list includes a high-level quick reference sheet as well as a more detailed explanation with additional information.
For current and former youth in foster care who are seeking postsecondary educational paths, Education Reach for Texans offers resources and guidance for financial and other supports.
*For those youth ages 16 to 25 who are looking for alternative opportunities, the Transition Centers operate as local one-stop service centers to help youth with job readiness and job search assistance, higher education enrollment assistance, food and housing assistance, and mentoring.
Local Points of Contact
There are designated points of contact for education issues at state and local education agencies and child welfare organizations.
DFPS Education Specialists help students in foster care and serve as a resource for DFPS staff, caregivers, and community stakeholders. DFPS has a resource page that includes contact information for DFPS Regional Education Specialists.
School districts must designate a least one employee to act as a Foster Care Liaison. Foster Care Liaisons help with numerous activities such as facilitating enrollment of students in foster care, advocating for the needs of students in foster care, and ensuring that required supports, practices, and best practice strategies for serving students in foster care are implemented. For more information, please visit the TEA webpage on Foster Care Liaisons.
Higher Education Foster Care Liaisons help to bridge the gap for students who want to pursue higher education and need additional support to obtain a certificate or degree. For contact information for Foster Care Liaisons at Texas Institutions of Higher Education, please visit List of Designated Foster Care Liaisons.
*Notes a correction from the previous version.