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Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Uninterrupted Scholars Act aims to improve educational outcomes for youth in foster care

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Representative Karen Bass (D-CA) along with bipartisan support from fellow members of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth Reps. Tom Marino (R-PA), Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) and Jim McDermott (D-WA) saw their bill aimed at improving educational outcomes of youth in foster care pass both the House and Senate on January 1, 3013. The members of the CCFY were supported by their Senate counterparts, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO).

One of the most challenging issues facing youth in care is having to repeat courses when they enroll in a new school because their placement changed. Children and youth often had to repeat classes, or potentially miss important classes they need to graduate on time.

The Uninterrupted Scholars Act will now allow child welfare agencies to access foster children and foster youth's education records to help with educational stability and to ensure that chlidren are not having to repeat classes as a result of placement moves. Under the current education laws regarding access to education records, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), social workers struggled in obtaining records that would help provide stability and smoother education transitions.

The Uninterrupted Scholar Act, along with the emphasis on educational stability outlined in the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, strengthen the resources child welfare agencies need to improve educational outcomes for youth in care. While the Fostering Connections emphasizes the importance of keeping children in the same schools to lessen school interruptions that are so difficult on a child's educational success, the Uninterrupted Scholars Act helps when those transitions and placement moves do occur.

As reported in the Huffington Post, Representative George Miller (D-CA) stated,

"Throughout their young lives they may change care placements multiple times. Each placement means adjusting to a new family; often to a new community, new friends and a new school. Each move can put their educational success in jeapordy that's because the caseworkers who advocate for them as they move from one school to another often do so without critical information. Though current law rightly requires foster care workers to move children's educational records in their case plans, another federal law limits the ability of caseworkers to access those records in a timely manner."

This video from Fostering Media Connections provides a good summary of the issue.

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