Under state law, education must be addressed at permanency hearings and attorneys must be knowledgeable about whether a child’s educational needs and goals are met and addressed. It is critical that judges and attorneys ask questions about education to help ensure positive school experiences and better education outcomes for children and youth in foster care.
Children lose about 4-6 months of progress with every school move. State laws, as well as federal education and child welfare laws, require that children be allowed to remain in the school where they are enrolled at the time of each placement, referred to as the school of origin. If it is not in the child’s best interest to remain in the school of origin, there must be immediate enrollment in the new school (i.e. within two days) with prompt records transfer between schools.
Every child in foster care has an education decision-maker, and children and youth receiving special education services also have a parent, a foster parent, or a surrogate parent making special education-related decisions on their behalf. Courts also have the authority to appoint a surrogate parent, if necessary, to ensure the educational rights of the child are protected. In most cases, however, if a surrogate parent is required, the school district will appoint one.