What is the ESSA?

In December 2015, President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  ESSA amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  Two parts of the amended ESEA are particularly relevant to children in foster care: Title I, which now provides school stability rights for children in foster care, and Title IX, the McKinney-Vento statute.  Some of the changes to McKinney-Vento went into effect in October 2016.  The Title I changes related to foster care are effective December 10, 2016.

What has changed for children in foster care? 

  • All children in foster care have to right to remain in their school of origin and receive transportation to their original school.  (School of origin means the school they are attending at the time of removal, or the school they are attending at the time DCF moves them to a new placement.)
  • If it is not in their best interests to remain in their school of origin, they must be enrolled immediately in the new school, even if records normally required for enrollment are not available.
  • Children who are placed in STARR programs and other temporary placements will no longer be considered homeless under the McKinney-Vento statute (but may continue to have rights under McKinney-Vento as formally homeless students).

The ESSA amendments are designed to complement the school stability provisions contained the Fostering Connections to Success Act of 2008.