Brief: Education Records of Children in Foster Care

October 10, 2013

Brief: Education Records of Children in Foster Care
Source: State Policy Advocacy and Reform Center

Authored by the Legal Center for Foster Care & Education, this brief describes the barriers to educational success that children in foster care often face, and how a new amendment to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) makes it easier for child welfare agencies to collaborate with schools to eliminate these barriers for children in foster care.

Until recently, FERPA posed some obstacles to child welfare agencies attempting to access students’ education records, track the educational outcomes of children in foster care, and intervene in a timely manner to improve these outcomes.

A new amendment to FERPA, the Uninterrupted Scholars Act (USA), has greatly expanded and simplified access to education records for child welfare staff. The amendment, effective January 14, 2013, permits schools to release a child’s education records to an agency caseworker, other representative of a state or local child welfare organization, or a tribal organization when the agency or organization is legally responsible for the care and protection of the student and has the right to have access to a student’s case plan.

This brief provides greater detail on how the new FERPA amendment improves the ability of child welfare agencies to collaborate with schools to improve educational outcomes for children in foster care. It provides examples of steps that state child welfare agencies and schools have already taken to implement it, as well as a list of considerations stakeholders should contemplate when implementing the law in their own jurisdictions.

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