COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

P.O. BOX 2120

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120

SUPTS. MEMO NO. 125

June 24, 2005

INFORMATIONAL

TO:

Division Superintendents

 

FROM:

Jo Lynne DeMary

Superintendent of Public Instruction

 

SUBJECT:

School Enrollment of Foster Care Children

 

This memorandum provides information about state legislation related to the enrollment of foster care children and contact information for technical assistance. Enrollment requirements can be barriers for this population of students, and this important piece of legislation is intended to facilitate the enrollment, attendance, and success of foster care children in public schools.

Senate Bill 1006,enacted in Chapter 343, 2005 Virginia Acts of Assembly, addresses new requirements for the enrollment of foster care children in the public schools and for the transfer of such students scholastic records upon enrollment. This legislation becomes effective July 1, 2005. The Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services are required to issue memoranda to inform school division superintendents and local social services agencies of the provisions of this legislation.

 

SUMMARY OF CHANGES TO TITLE 22.1 OF THE CODE OF VIRGINIA RELATED TO EDUCATION

 

 

Definition of a Child in Foster Care

"A child or student placed in foster care" means a pupil who is the subject of a foster care placement through an entrustment or commitment of such child to the local social services board or licensed child-placing agency pursuant to clause (ii) of the definition of "foster care placement" as set forth in 63.2-100. (Section 22.1-3.4 of the legislation.)

 

 

Definition of Receiving and Sending School Divisions

A "receiving school division" means the school division in which the residence of the student's foster care placement is located. A "sending school division" means the school division in which the student last attended school. (Section 22.1-3.4 of the legislation.)

 

Assurance for Expeditious Enrollment

Whenever a student has been placed in foster care by a local social services agency, and the placing social services agency is unable to produce any of the documents required for enrollment the student shall immediately be enrolled; however, the person enrolling the student shall provide a written statement that, to the best of his or her knowledge, sets forth:

 

         The student's age

         Compliance with the requirements of 22.1-3.2, and

         That the student is in good health and is free from communicable or contagious disease

 

See Attachment A for additional information.

 

The sending and receiving school divisions shall cooperate in facilitating the enrollment of any child placed in foster care across jurisdictional lines for the purpose of enhancing continuity of instruction. The sending school division and the receiving school division may agree to allow the child to continue to attend the school in which he or she was enrolled prior to the most recent foster care placement, upon the agreement of the placing social services agency that such attendance is in the best interest of the child.

 

See Attachment B for additional information.

 

In the event the student is allowed to continue to attend the school in which he or she was enrolled prior to the most recent foster care placement, the receiving school division shall be accorded foster children education payments pursuant to 22.1-101.1; further, the receiving school division may enter into financial arrangements with the sending school division for the cost of educating foster care children pursuant to subsection C of 22.1-5. (Section 22.1-3.4 of the legislation.)

 

School division personnel designated to handle issues related to the enrollment and placement of foster care children in school should work closely with their respective finance officers to ensure that the school division providing education services to foster care children is receiving payments either directly from the commonwealth or transferred from another school division in accordance with this legislation and with 22.1-5C. Please note that this department will issue instructions related to foster care payments, including references to this legislation and superintendents memorandum.

 

Assessment of Tuition Charges

 

Local/Intrastate Foster Care Placements - SB1006 states the following: Under no circumstances shall a child placed in foster care be charged tuition regardless of whether such child is attending the school in which he or she was enrolled prior to the most recent foster care placement or attending a school in the receiving school division. (Section 22.1-3.4 of the legislation.) Please note that this provision of the bill addresses those foster care children placed through an entrustment of commitment to a local Virginia social service board or Virginia licensed child-placing agency.

 

Interstate Compact Placements - Please note that, in cases where non-resident students are placed in foster care or other custodial care or in a child-caring institution or group home by an out-of-state agency or by a person who is the resident of another state through an Interstate Compact placement agreement, the school division in which the student is enrolled should charge tuition to the sending out-of-state agency or responsible nonresident person pursuant to 22.1-101.1 D, of the Code of Virginia.

 

Immediate Records Transfer

Upon receiving notice of a foster care placement of a student across jurisdictional lines, the sending school division and the receiving school division, as such school divisions are defined in 22.1-3.4, shall expedite the transfer of the scholastic record of the student. (Section 22.1-289 of the legislation.)

 

SUMMARY OF CHANGES TO TITLE 63.2 OF THE CODE OF VIRGINIA RELATED TO SOCIAL SERVICES

 

 

Seventy-Two Hour Notification of Placement

Within 72 hours of placing a child of school age in a foster care placement, as defined in 63.2-100, the local social services agency making such placement shall, in writing (Section 63.2-900 of the legislation.),

 

         Notify the principal of the school in which the student is to be enrolled and the superintendent of the relevant school division or his or her designee of such placement, and

         Inform the principal of the status of the parental rights.

 

Documentation for Enrollment

If the documents required for enrollment of the foster child pursuant to 22.1-3.1, 22.1-270 or 22.1-271.2, are not immediately available upon taking the child into custody, the placing social services agency shall obtain and produce or otherwise ensure compliance with such requirements for the foster child within 30 days after the child's enrollment. (Section 63.2-900 of the legislation.)

 

 

Should questions arise regarding these changes to Title 63.2 of the Code, school divisions should contact local social service agencies, the Virginia Department of Social Services, or the licensed child-placing agency that is working with a foster child.

 

School Division Responsibilities

The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that foster care children in the Commonwealth have equal access to services offered to other students in public school and are enrolled in a school division that is determined to be in the child's best interest. Each school division has the responsibility to:

         Develop, review, and revise policies to eliminate barriers related to the immediate enrollment of foster care children. Generally, these barriers involve transportation issues and enrollment delays caused by immunization requirements, residency requirements, lack of birth certificates, school records, and other documentation, and guardianship issues.

         Enroll each foster care child in the school that is determined to serve the child most effectively. This determination would be made upon agreement of the placing social services agency as well as the sending and receiving school divisions.

 

School Division Contacts

School divisions are encouraged to coordinate all enrollment efforts with social service agencies. It is also recommended that school divisions consider designating appropriate points of contact for foster care pupil enrollment within divisions in order to ensure that all foster care children are enrolled in a streamlined manner.

 

This legislation gives school divisions a critical responsibility for ensuring that foster care children are immediately enrolled in school, even in the absence of required documentation. Consequently, school divisions are encouraged to work closely with local social services agencies and other school divisions and affected entities to ensure that the educational services provided to a foster care student serve the best interest of the child. It is also recommended that all school divisions become familiar with the guidance issued by the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) in its required communication regarding this legislation. This guidance will be provided to all school divisions as soon as it becomes available.

 

Should you have any questions about this superintendents memorandum, please contact either Dr. Cynthia A. Cave, director of student services, at (804) 225-2818 or cynthia.cave@doe.virginia.gov, or Michelle M. Vucci, director of policy, at (804) 371-0558 or michelle.vucci@doe.virginia.gov. Any questions regarding the memorandum issued by VDSS should be addressed to Therese A. Wolf, foster care program manager at (804) 726-7522 or VDSS therese.wolf@dss.virginia.gov.

 

JLD/MMV/cb

 

Attachments

 

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/administrators/superintendents_memos/2005/inf125a.pdf

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/administrators/superintendents_memos/2005/inf125b.pdf