Educational Stability for Children and Youth in Foster Care in PA
Welcome Back to School!
After a challenging 2020-21 school year, we want to provide reminders and updates for staff working with students in foster care to ensure that our students enter the 2021-22 school year ready to learn. Please take a few minutes to review our “Back to School” newsletter, which provides practical tips and tools as well as information about upcoming events and activities. We wish you and the students you serve a successful 2021-22 school year.
Thank you for all you do!
Matthew Butensky, Youth Development Managing Coordinator, State Education Agency Foster Care Point of Contact, Center for Schools and Communities
Jillian Schreib, Program Specialist, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Office of Children, Youth, and Families (OCYF)
10 Quick Tips to Help Guide Back to School Preparation for School and Child Welfare Partners
- Review your Point of Contact/Education Liaison contact and send any updates to PA Foster Care.
- Collaborate to create an updated list of students in foster care.
- Review modes of learning available to students in foster care for the 2021-22 school year.
- Consider the need for Best Interest Determinations or review of other education-related decisions made during the 2020-21 school year. Keep any proposed changes child-centered and best-interest focused.
- Ensure transportation is coordinated.
- Prepare a welcoming environment for students in foster care to promote school connectedness and school engagement.
- Check-in with students in foster care and their caregivers, especially new students, to assess their needs and to support their return to school for the 2021-22 school year.
- Link students in foster care to available resources, programs, and activities to address academic loss and accelerate learning.
- Consider establishing a regular means of communication among local school and child welfare staff to review student needs, academic progress, entry into foster care, and changes in foster care placement.
- Visit PA Foster Care for information about laws, guidance, resources, tools, professional learning, and more.
American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 will provide Pennsylvania $4.9 billion in emergency funding to support the long-term work of education recovery. Local Education Agencies may use Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) and Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds to serve children and youth in foster care.
Excerpt from the U.S. Department of Education Guidance
While specific uses of funds depend on the local context and the unique needs of students and caregivers, ESSER and GEER funds might be used to support the following activities:
- Transport students in foster care to their respective schools of origin where Local Education Agencies are offering in-person learning, hybrid learning, or supplemental instruction/coaching opportunities.
- Purchase technology (including laptops, Wi-Fi hotspots, or tablets) that enables students in foster care to consistently access instruction.
- Provide academic supports (including tutoring or supplemental instructional opportunities) to meet the unique learning needs of students in foster care.
- Help students/caregivers meet their basic needs, including access to meals and hygienic supplies (e.g., masks or hand sanitizer).
- Meet rising mental health and behavioral needs (e.g., contracting with community mental health providers to support students virtually/on-site at school).
US ED Resources
Nominate Your Colleagues for the 2021 Advocate of the Year Awards
Deadline: Friday, Sept. 3, 2021
Pennsylvanians who fully support services and programs for students experiencing homelessness and/or in foster care will be recognized during the 2021 Paving the Way to Educational Success Conference being held virtually Tuesday, Oct. 5 – Thursday, Oct. 7.
The Paving the Way Planning Committee is soliciting nominations for this special award. Nominate colleagues who serve as district foster care points of contact, children and youth social service staff, school district homeless liaisons, shelter/provider personnel, and other professionals/individuals in Pennsylvania and have made a profound impact on support services and programs for students experiencing homelessness and/or youth in foster care. Multiple nominees will be selected and celebrated during the 2021 Conference.
Nominate Your Advocate
County Children and Youth Agency Education Liaison Roles and Responsibilities Guidance
The Office of Children, Youth, and Families (OCYF) recently issued best practice guidance on the roles and responsibilities of County Children and Youth Agency Education Liaisons.
Roles and Responsibilities of CCYA Education Liaisons
New Foster Care Student School Stability Tool
We have been considering new ways to best support school stability and academic success for students in foster care. To help meet this need, we developed a new tool for School Foster Care Points of Contact. As a best practice, we encourage school points of contact to use this tool throughout the school year for the students in foster care they serve.
The new Foster Care Student School Stability Tool enables school points of contact to record school stability-related information for every student in foster care enrolled, educated, or residing in their local education agency. We know that when local education agencies can identify all students in foster care in their schools and communities, they are better positioned to support their needs.
Foster Care Student School Stability Tool
Preparing for a Safe New School Year
The Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania Department of Health are offering recommendations to families and schools as they safely prepare for in-person teaching and learning — learn more about vaccinations, school guidance, and face coverings/masks.
PROFESSIONAL LEARNING / TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
2021 Paving the Way to Educational Success Conference
Tuesday, Oct. 5 – Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021 | Virtual
The 2021 Paving the Way to Educational Success Conference is a unique opportunity to deepen your knowledge and practice for working with students experiencing homelessness and students in foster care.
Attend “Meet the Exhibitors,” state and local networking, recognition of 2021 Advocates of the Year, “Reflect and Refresh” sessions, dynamic keynote addresses, and a comprehensive selection of workshops at the 2021 conference.
School district foster care points of contact, homeless liaisons, child welfare agency points of contact, child welfare private providers, shelter staff, educators, school social workers, pupil services personnel, school counselors, and any other professionals working with children and youth experiencing homelessness and children and youth in foster care are encouraged to attend.
Opportunities to Receive FREE Training or Technical Assistance from the Education Barriers to Permanency Project
The American Bar Association Education Barriers to Permanency Project is actively seeking new projects or technical assistance counties — at no cost to the county. The project focuses on improving education outcomes for children in foster care as a key component to permanency and life success and guides its work around three principles:
- School stability strengthens placement stability and often speeds permanency for children and families.
- School success guides life success, focusing on the full educational experience (including student needs and supports) to improve school and life outcomes.
- Collaboration between schools, child welfare agencies, and courts is key to supporting students in foster care.
Contact Education Barriers to Permanency Project for additional information and to discuss the possibilities for your organization.