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In December 2015, Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), and is an education law creating provisions for children in foster care. These provisions took effect on December 10, 2016 and complement those in the Fostering Connections Act and require SEAs and LEAs to work with child welfare agencies to ensure the educational stability of children in foster care.Back to top
Federal Law and Iowa Code
Health and Human Services
Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Fostering Connections Act) - Improving Outcomes for Children in Foster Care (PL 110-351/HR 6893). This is the text in its entirety, to view the educational stability portion, refer to Title II--Section 204 Educational Stability.
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) 2015 (PL 114-95) - Full text.
In 2009, the Iowa Code was updated to include specific areas to address educational responsibilities of districts in educating children and youth in foster/out-of-home care.
The following links access specific sections of the Iowa Code pertaining to districts compliance with Foster Connections Legislation:
- Iowa Code 280.29 - Enrollment of children adjudicated or in foster care - transfer of educational records - services
- Iowa Code 282.19 - Child living in substance abuse for foster care placement
- Iowa Code 282.27 - Children living in psychiatric hospitals or institutions - payment
- Iowa Code 282.29 - Children placed by district court
- Iowa Code 282.30 - Special programs
- Iowa Code 282.31 - Funding for special programs
- Iowa Code 282.33 - Funding for children residing in state mental health institutions
Decision-Making for Children with Disabilities in Foster Care - This document, jointly issued by the Iowa Department of Education and the Iowa Department of Human Services, explains who may act as a parent, for purposes of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), for children who are in foster care. It clarifies the role of established parents, foster parents, guardians, DHS employees, and surrogate parents.Back to top
Every Student Succeeds Act
The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released joint guidance to states, school districts and child welfare agencies on the new provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for supporting children/youth in foster care. The guidance aims to assist state and local partners in understanding and implementing the law, and to inform state and local collaboration between educational and child welfare agencies across the nation for the well-being of children in foster care.
- Non-Regulatory Guidance: Ensuring Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care (6-23-16)
- Dear Colleague Letter on Foster Care Guidance (6-23-16)
- Dear Colleague Letter on Foster Care Timelines (6-23-16)
- Dear Colleague Letter on Implementation of Educational Stability Requirements (12-5-16)
- Dear Colleague Letter on Interagency Collaboration (7-25-23)
Guidance for Iowa School Districts
- Best Interest Determination Conversation/Worksheet (2017-08-23)
- ESSA Foster Care Manual - Iowa Guidance (2018-08-23)
- ESSA Foster Care Transportation Reimbursement Form 2023-24
- ESSA Foster Care Overview (webcast) (2017-03-01)
- Letter to the Field POC Regarding ESSA Foster Care Provisions (2018-10-01)
- POC Flowchart (2017-08-23)
- Point of Contact Overview (2017-02-15)
- School Transportation Decision Matrix (2017-08-23)
- What DHS Workers Need to Know About ESSA (2017-02-15)
Iowa Department of Health and Human Services Child Welfare Contacts
|Cedar Rapids Area
|Des Moines Area
|563-326-8794 ext. 3329
|Western Iowa (Southern)
|Western Iowa (Northern)
|712-255-2913 ext. 2107
Links & Resources
- ED and HHS Letter to Chief State School Officers and Child Welfare Directors on Implementing the Fostering Connections Act (2014-05-30)
- Letter to States Letter to Chief State School Officers and State Child Welfare Directors on the Fostering Connections Act (2011-08-25)
- Meeting the Needs of Students in the Child Welfare System - Teachers
- Meeting the Needs of Students in the Child Welfare System - Administrators
Information/Data Sharing (FERPA, USA)
- Uninterrupted Scholars Act (U.S.A.) (January 2013)
- Guidance on IDEA and Highly Mobile Students (2013-07-19)
- Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Center
- National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center (NSTTAC)
- National Dropout Prevention Center
- Center for Parent Information and Resource
Supportive School Discipline & Prevention Efforts
- Supportive School Discipline Guidance
- Safe & Supportive Learning Environments - Training Toolkits (2014)
Legal Center for Foster Care and Education - Serves as a national technical assistance resource and information clearinghouse on legal and policy matters affecting the education of children in the foster care system. The Legal Center FCE provides expertise to states and constituents, facilitates networking to advance promising practices and reforms, and provides technical assistance and training to respond to the ever-growing demands for legal support and guidance.
AMP Iowa - A youth-driven, statewide group that seeks to unleash the full potential for personal growth among foster and adoptive children in Iowa. AMP offers leadership opportunities, service learning projects, speaking opportunities, and educational/vocational assistance. AMP also provides the life skills youth need to become self-sufficient, independent adults. The Department of Human Services partners with Youth and Shelter Services, in Ames, IA to support AMP local councils across Iowa.
Education Law Center: Students in Foster Care Resources - Information and tools to help educators and administrators understand the issues of students in the foster care system and to identify interventions that can make a difference helping youth in care succeed in school.
Foster Care Transition Toolkit - Includes tips and resources intended to help foster care youth access and navigate social, emotional and educational skills barriers as they transition into adulthood.
Iowa Children's Justice Initiative - Dedicated to improving the lives and future prospects of children who pass through Iowa's dependency courts.Back to top
Funding - Foster Care Claims
General Education Foster Care Claim
School districts may submit a claim to request additional funding for regular education students living in foster care homes or facilities who are enrolled in the district and are only in the district because of their foster care placement. The claim is a data collection located in the Iowa Education Portal. The Foster Care Claim application is located in the Iowa Education Portal. The claim is generated from the fall and spring Student Reporting in Iowa collection (SRI) submissions. The claim must be certified each year by August 1. For more information about the foster care claim process, for regular education students, contact Song Luong at 515-205-0259.
Special Education Foster Care Claim
Special education foster care claims are submitted through the Tuition-In Billing application located in the Iowa Education Portal.
Claims for students whose parental rights have not been terminated must be submitted to the student’s resident district by July 15. Claims for students whose parental rights have been terminated must be submitted to the state for reimbursement by August 1. For assistance with the foster care claim process for special education students, contact Luke Markway at 515-393-8349.Back to top