The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires that Local Education Agencies (LEAs) and Child Welfare Agencies (CWAs) collaborate to ensure educational stability for students placed in out-of-home care.
Educational stability means ensuring academic continuity (and a student’s right to remain in their school of origin), supporting meaningful relationships developed at school, and fostering a sense of belonging for students who often experience disruptions both at school and at home that can impact their academic experiences and outcomes.
When Does ESSA Apply?
A student living in out-of-home care means a student who has been placed in a residential setting outside of the student’s home by a county, state, or tribal child welfare agency. This can include shelter care; the home of a relative other than a parent; foster care; a group home; or a residential care center for children and youth. Schools must receive notice whenever a student is placed in out-of-home care, or when the student’s placement has been changed from one residential setting to another. If there are questions about whether a student has been placed in out-of-home care, the school should contact the state, county, or tribal child welfare agency involved.
The educational stability provisions under ESSA apply to students at all public schools, including preschools and public charter schools.
- Educational Stability for Students in Out-of-Home Care Desk Guide This 2-page guide includes the basic requirements as well as federal and state law references.
- Out-of-Home Care Educational Stability "Know-Your-Rights" Flier for Families This 2-page flier includes the basic requirements and is editable to include your LEA Point of Contact information to share with families and students.
- Promising Strategies to Support Students in Out-of-Home Care Here you will find actionable strategies to go above and beyond the requirements of ESSA and fully support the academic success of students in out-of-home care. This resource was developed by the Department of Public Instruction, with the input of both child welfare and education stakeholders. It includes a planning tool LEAs and CWAs can use to collaboratively design and implement strategies at the local level.
- Understanding Guardianship, Legal Custody, and Physical Custody for School Professionals in WI
Requirements under ESSA for Educational Stability
LEAs and CWAs must work in partnership to facilitate the educational stability of students placed in out-of-home care. Ongoing communication and joint decision-making are key to helping ensure educational stability and school success.
School of Origin
To ensure educational stability, students placed in out-of-home care are presumed to remain in their school of origin (the school they were enrolled or most recently enrolled in at the time of placement).
Once a student is placed in out-of-home care, transportation must be immediately provided, arranged, and funded to the school of origin for the duration of the student’s placement. LEAs should collaborate with the CWA to develop agreed upon procedures to ensure transportation.
Best Interest Determination
If there is consideration that it is not in the student’s best interest to remain in the school of origin, the LEAs and CWA must conduct a best interest determination review.
If it is determined to be in the best interest of a student placed in out-of-home care to enroll in their resident school, the LEA will immediately enroll the student even without documents normally required for enrollment.
Transfer of Records
If the student changes to the school of residence, that school must immediately request the transfer of academic and other records from the school of origin.
The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, Sections 1005 and 1006
Non Regulatory Guidance: Ensuring Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care, U.S.D.E and U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Jun. 23, 2016.
Wis. Stat. §§ 48.02(12r) and 938.02(12r)
Wis. Stat. §§ 48.64(1r) and 938.64(1r)