For children and youth in foster care, a change in home placement frequently results in a change in school placement. The educational impact of every school change is significant. Each time students enter new schools, they must adjust to different curricula, different expectations, new friends, and new teachers. Keeping children in the same school:
- provides continuity in education;
- maintains important relationships at school;
- provides stability during a traumatic time for the children; and
- improves educational and life outcomes.
Virginia revised its joint guidance in 2017 to implement the provisions of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Fostering Connections) and the Title I, Part A provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA) to ensure school stability for students in foster care.
Both acts mandate educational stability for children in out-of-home care and require child welfare agencies (i.e., department of social services, licensed child-placing agencies, etc.) to coordinate with local educational agencies (school divisions) to ensure educational stability for every child in foster care.
Any student who is placed through the Virginia Department of Social Services, must follow the provisions mandated in the Fostering Connections guidance. The social worker must contact the school registrar and the Foster Care Liaison prior to the change of placement so that a Best Interest Determination (BID) meeting may be conducted. The completed BID information should be submitted to the school registrar for enrollment.
Once the determination has been decided, the Foster Care social worker and/or foster parent must make an appointment at the local school and present legal documentation and proof of residency in Roanoke County.
If the student is placed through another state's Department of Social Services, an Interstate Compact Agreement must be arranged.