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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Role of Schools

​How many children are in out-of-home care in Wisconsin?

Over the last ten years, the annual average number of children has run from 6,500 to 7,500.

Why are children placed in out-of-home care?

Children are placed in out-of-home care for a wide variety of reasons, including abuse or neglect, delinquency, uncontrollability, mental illness, truancy, and developmental or physical disability. In every court-ordered placement, the court must determine that continuation in the home would be contrary to the welfare of the child. Additionally, under the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and state law, an Indian child may be placed in out-of-home care if it is determined that remaining in the home would result in serious physical or emotional damage to the Indian child.

How old are children in out-of-home care?

As of December 31, 2013, about one-third are ages 4 and under, about one-third are ages 5-10, and about one-third are ages 11-16. About eight percent are aged 17-19.

Are most children in out-of-home care waiting to be adopted?

No. Most children in out-of-home care will never be eligible for adoption (i.e., have their parents’ rights terminated). For 2013 in Wisconsin, outcomes for children who left care were:
  • 60 percent of children were reunified;
  • 16 percent were adopted;
  • 12 percent were under a guardianship;
  • 7 percent aged out of care;
  • 2 percent were living with relatives; and
  • 3 percent were in some other living situation.

How should schools and child welfare agencies relate?

Over the last several years, the federal government has identified a need for schools and child welfare agencies to collaborate. These entities need to partner to assure that children in out-of-home care receive the services they need to have positive school experiences and to earn high school diplomas.

The following federal laws relate to this collaboration:
Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Fostering Connections Act): Child’s permanency plan to court must include “assurances that the placement of the child in foster care takes into account the appropriateness of the current educational setting and the proximity to the school in which the child is enrolled at the time of placement.” This has been codified in Wisconsin statutes at s. 48.38(4)(dm).

Uninterrupted Scholars Act of 2013 (USA): Amended the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) to allow or require the sharing of educational information by child’s school with the child welfare agency which has responsibility for the placement and care of the child. [This has been codified in Wisconsin statutes at ss. 115.298 and 118.125(2)(q)]. See the Confidentiality and Information Sharing Section.

Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA): Amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). ESSA emphasizes the need for collaboration between education and child welfare agencies at the state, local, and tribal levels. It requires school districts, in collaboration with child welfare agencies, to determine the best interests of a child and to create clear written procedures related to transportation of a child to his or her school of origin.

What is the mechanism for collaboration between schools and child welfare agencies?

Each school district or local education agency (LEA) and child welfare agency is required to name a Point of Contact. These individuals should collaborate on the written procedures noted above and then serve as the primary point of contact for their respective agency.

Who is responsible for transportation to school for a child in out-of-home care: the school or the child welfare agency?

The Fostering Connections Act requires that child welfare agencies seek to maintain children in their school of origin (i.e., the school they are attending when they enter foster care or the most recent school in which they were enrolled) when they place children in out-of-home care, including with family members, if it is in their best interest. Federal foster care funds may, in some cases, be used to transport children from the foster home to the school of origin. Effective December 10, 2016, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) will place expectations on school districts to maintain students living in out-of-home care in their school of origin, if it is in their best interest. Please see the links to the law, the regulations, and the Non-Regulation Guidance document.

Schools and child welfare agencies should collaborate regarding arranging transportation to keep students in their schools of origin if it is in their best interest. If this involves a neighboring school district, the two school districts should work together to ensure transportation.
For questions about this information, contact Mark Mitchell (608) 267-1281