The Uninterrupted Scholars Act (USA) amends the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to allow DCBS access to educational records of children placed in foster care. The USA states that child welfare workers, who have the right to access a child’s case plan, are also afforded the right to access a foster child’s educational records.
The amendment will help ensure that school records requested for the educational passport, including individual education plans (IEP), are transferred quickly when a child moves to a different school, due to placement in foster care. In addition, it eliminates the requirement that the education agency provide notice to a parent regarding the release of education records to the child welfare agency, when an order has been issued and the parent is involved in court proceedings involving a child abuse, neglect or dependency action. The amendments to FERPA in the Uninterrupted Scholars Act will assist DCBS in fully implementing the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 that promotes improved educational experiences and outcomes for children in foster care.
The Educational Passport is the document that assists the Cabinet and the school in determining what educational records are to be released for state agency children.
State agency children are children committed to or in the custody of the cabinet who are placed in a CHFS services operated or contracted institution, treatment center, facility, including those for therapeutic foster care and excluding those for non-therapeutic. State agency children include children placed in a private facility pursuant to child care agreements.
This Educational Passport is to be completed by the school or educational facility which a state agency foster child is leaving. This document provides the child’s new school or facility with basic demographic and academic information about the child. It is utilized to ensure the timely transfer of educational records and share the educational needs of the child with the new school. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services is responsible for providing the educational passport form to the receiving school or educational facility. The school is responsible for transferring the child's records to the new school.
The SSW or designated staff, ensures that the following tasks are completed when a state agency foster child transfers from one school to another: 1
- Requests copies of the educational records listed on the Educational Passport form, when enrolling a foster child in school or when the child transfers schools; 2
- Requests the school transfer the child's education records immediately to the new school;
- Provides a copy of the Educational Passport form to the school the child is transferring from;
- Obtains a copy of the completed Educational Passport form from the transferring school, within two (2) days, and provides that to the child’s new school, within two (2) days of receipt;
- Signs the Release of Records to State Child Welfare Agency form, provided by the school, as requested;
- Requests that fees for copies of a foster child’s educational records be waived, if payment is requested by a school;
- Includes information from an educational passport in the assessment and addresses services that meet the needs of the child in the child/youth action plan section of the case plan;
- Requests educational records as needed throughout the life of the case;
- Provides a copy of the Collective Letter Between DCBS and the Department of Education to the school for review, when school personnel are unaware of the provisions in the USA.
- Should be aware that staff in the schools want to protect confidentiality and may not be familiar with DCBS staff in the school district;
- Remember to maintain confidentiality. Basic information may be shared with school personnel, concerning a child, only if it is determined that the person has a legitimate interest and an ongoing, continuous relationship with the child;
- Contacts the school to find out what documentation is required to enroll the child;
- Should contact the school prior to enrolling a child or withdrawing a child whenever possible. Staff may have changed and a phone call will help the school prepare for the child’s arrival (refer to Statewide School Contact List);
- Provide his/her name, state the purpose of the visit and provide ID; and
- Request educational services to assist the child if needed.
- A copy of 702 KAR 3:220(4)(7), which specifies the fees for copies of educational records for children receiving free or reduced price lunch shall be waived, may be provided as necessary. Foster children automatically qualify for free lunch via their status, pursuant to federal law.
- It is recommended that the FSOS or designated regional staff send a letter to each school (principal, guidance counselor and family resource center) at the beginning of the school year. The letter should provide the names of staff members and the FSOS’s contact information. Inform appropriate school personnel that they are welcome to contact DCBS if they have any questions or concerns. If a new staff member joins the team an updated letter should be provided to the school.
- When moving a child from one school to another, always provide the school the child is leaving with an educational passport request form to facilitate the transfer of the child’s records from one school to the next. It is the school’s responsibility to transfer the education records immediately. Request copies of the child’s school records for the child’s case file. The Educational Passport form provides a listing of essential documents.
- The SSW should communicate with foster/adoptive parents about the requirements for enrolling or withdrawing children in foster care from school to prevent the child from incurring unnecessary absences.
- The educational assessment process should be facilitated as soon as the child enters foster care to help expedite the provision of services for identified delays or other educational needs.
- The court should be made aware of the child’s educational status (grade level, current school, attendance, overall performance, and any changes in current school settings).
- DCBS can only share a child’s educational records when it pertains to the child’s education plan.
- Foster/adoptive parents can request and receive copies of educational records for children placed in their care if the birth parent grants permission in writing, or they have been assigned as the child’s educational surrogate.