On December 10, 2015, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and instituted new protections for children in foster care that further enhanced the requirements of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Fostering Connections Act). These provisions, which took effect December 10, 2016, require State Educational Agencies (SEAs) and Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) to work with child welfare agencies to ensure the educational stability of children in foster care.
In 2010, N.J.S.A. 18A and N.J.S.A. 30 were amended in response to the federal Fostering Connections Act. These amendments established requirements to support and implement the federal legislation, requiring child welfare agencies and school districts to collaborate and keep children in foster care in the same school when their living placements change, if remaining in that school is in their best interest. The New Jersey Departments of Children and Families (DCF) and Education (DOE) collaborated with local school districts to successfully implement those amendments, and the collaboration will continue in order to support the implementation of the new requirements under ESSA.
The foster care provisions of Title I, Part A of ESSA complement those in the Fostering Connections Act, and clearly state that the educational stability of children in foster care is the joint responsibility of both the education and child welfare systems.
Requirements for LEAs: LEAs must implement the Title I educational stability requirements for children in foster care, ensuring that: