The Department for Community Based Services will make every effort to ensure a child’s educational stability and document those efforts. Federal law requires that those efforts include the agency’s attempts to ensure the child can remain in the same school that the child attended prior to removal, documentation around educational assessments and services to support the child’s educational needs, and the appropriate transfer of school records when a change in schools is necessary. DCBS recognizes schools may have legitimate interest in reports of abuse or neglect of school aged children.
The child’s needs are assessed at every case conference. Case plan objectives and action steps are developed accordingly. The SSW encourages the child’s parent, guardian or custodian to permit the inclusion of the child’s teacher, school social worker, and any other identified educational supports in case plan conferences/family team meetings. The SSW advises birth parent(s), guardian or custodian of their right to approve the foster parent to co-serve as a parent with respect to educational decisions and release of the child’s educational records. 1
DCBS does not authorize children in out of home care to be home-schooled without court authorization, except for homebound programs that are administered by a public or private school. DCBS does not authorize children in out of home care to enroll in non-accredited educational programs that are not recognized by the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE).
- When school is in session and the child is of school age, the SSW notifies the school within two (2) working days:
- At the beginning of an investigation or assessment, when the child is a victim of alleged abuse or neglect;
- At the conclusion of the agency’s work with the family.
- Notifies the principal or any assistant principal of the school in which the child is enrolled and the school district director of pupil personnel verbally and via e-mail or facsimile, when custody of a child is granted to the cabinet through an emergency, temporary or permanent court order:
- on the day a court order is entered; and
- on any day a change is made regarding who is authorized to contact or remove the child from school grounds, or on the following school day if the court order or change occurs after the end of the current school day.
- Provides written notification via email, facsimile or by hand delivery a copy of the court order within ten (10) calendar days following a change of custody or change in contact or removal authority, if notification is not provided on the day of removal.
- Works with school personnel and foster/adoptive parents, upon entry into OOHC care, to ensure that the child may remain in the school he or she attended prior to removal;
- If transfer of schools is necessary, enrolls a child of school age in a public school within three (3) working days of the child’s placement when offices are open for enrollment unless one of the following circumstances exists:
- An alternative education plan has been recommended by the child's home school and approved by the court;
- The child/youth has a medical condition, which prohibits them from attending school.
- Reviews the assessment and any other available information regarding the child’s developmental or educational background prior to the case planning conference;
- Leads the family’s team in a review of the child’s developmental and educational history, functioning and needs during the initial case planning conference and periodic reviews;
- Documents plans for educational stability during initial and periodic case conferences. Education information should include but is not limited to:
- A determination of whether or not the child will attend the same school previously attended prior to any placement change; and
- If the child must transfer to a different school:
- Efforts made to allow the child to remain at the school he or she attended at the time of removal or any placement change;
- Arrangements for transportation when appropriate;
- Distance of the school the child will be attending from the child’s current placement;
- Documentation supporting the determination that a transfer of schools is in the best interest of the child;
- The name of the school the child will be attending while in OOHC;
- Arrangements for enrollment with new school including transfer of education records; or
- Regularly updated medical documentation that verifies that a child is incapable of attending school; 2
- Includes any assessed needs on the child/youth action plan;
- Discusses the appropriateness of pursuing a high school equivalency diploma, if the child is designated as a state agency child as defined in SOP 4.28.3, who is seventeen (17) years old, assesses the appropriateness of pursuing a high school equivalency diploma; and
- Discusses with the child that attainment of a high school equivalency diploma does not exempt the child from compulsory attendance.
- Makes a referral to Early Start, EPSDT, or other appropriate foster/adoptive for a developmental screening within thirty (30) days for any child under the age of five (5);
- Facilitates an educational assessment through the local education agency (LEA) to be completed and submitted to the court of competent jurisdiction within sixty (60) days of commitment;
- Incorporates appropriate contacts, with teachers or school staff member to gather information as part of ongoing assessment and service delivery;
- In cooperation with the caregiver, maintains contact with the child’s early intervention service provider or school staff to:
- Determine the child’s level of functioning;
- Identify current or potential problems; and
- Review the progress report or report card;
- Informs staff of a school or educational facility that the SSW will make a request for a completed educational passport for a child, when the child moves from one school to another.
- School disruption can cause extreme emotional stress from a child and may affect his or her academic performance, development and/or overall well-being. There are ways DCBS can attempt to minimize the effects on the child, including:
- Collaborating with school staff and utilizing the Educational Passport as early as possible in determining best educational placement to meet the child's needs.
- Placing a child with a foster/adoptive family living in the same school district;
- Assisting the foster/adoptive family living in a different district with arranging transportation for the child, so that he or she can continue to attend the same school;
- Delaying a change in placement until the end of a school semester or year, when appropriate;
- Scheduling visitation with parents and medical and court appointments during non-school hours, whenever possible; and
- Contacting other schools in the same or an adjoining school district regarding the requirement for and the availability of school-provided transportation between the school and the family foster/adoptive home.
- If the child in out of home care has been placed with a foster/adoptive family in the same school district but outside the attendance area for the school where the child was previously attending, or would have attended before the placement, the SSW may make a special expense request to reimburse the foster/adoptive parent for the additional mileage, when reasonable, to maintain a child in his or her home school. This applies only after a Foster/Adoptive Home can justify that the transportation allowance in the per diem has been exhausted.
- The SSW should incorporate, into the case planning discussion, appropriate use of the DPP-330-Educational Advocacy Request Form, if the birth parent agrees to allow the foster/adoptive parent to make educational decisions on behalf of the child as outlined in SOP 4.28.2 Providing Educational Services under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). The SSW continues to engage the biological parents in decision-making regarding the child’s educational services. Although many children in OOHC will be reunified, alternative permanency planning will be pursued beginning no later than the six (6) month periodic review to ensure that all children have a permanent family as quickly as possible.
- Assistance may be requested from the Commission for Children with Special Health Care Needs (CCSHCN) in identifying and addressing health issues in the child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for a child designated as medically complex.