Partners for Our Children

Sponsored by Representative Carlyle, HB1566 requires the department to identify an educational liaison for youth in grades six through twelve who are in out-of-home care. It is preferred that the educational liaison, who is to be a person committed to providing enduring educational support, be known to the youth and be a relative, fictive kin, or the youth’s foster parent. Birth parents with a primary plan of reunification may serve as the educational liaison. The educational liaison’s responsibilities include attending educational meetings and dependency hearing; meeting regularly with school personnel; understanding the youth’s academic strengths, areas of concern, and goals; and providing a report to the court during each dependency hearing about the youth’s education progress and experience in school, as well as recommendations about needed services.

The department will also provide youth residing in out-of-home care with the opportunity to remain in their school of origin, unless doing so would jeopardize the youth’s safety or a relative placement is secured for the youth. The department is responsible for enrolling the youth in school, notifying the receiving school and the school of origin of the transfer, transferring academic and medical records required for school enrollment within 10 business days, notifying all legal parties, and paying for transportation costs for a youth to attend the school of origin when the youth has been in out-of-home care for over 12 months.

An annual report on educational outcome data for foster care students must be made, including information about the percentage of youth enrolled in an early learning program, scores from statewide student assessments, high school graduation rates, and the number of youth attending and completing postsecondary education. School districts must review unexpected or excessive absences for youth who are in out-of-home care and take into account factors including unplanned school transitions, periods of runaway, inpatient treatment, incarceration, and unavoidable appointments during the school day. School districts must proactively support the youth’s school work so the student doesn’t fall behind and to avoid suspension or expulsion based on truancy.

A demonstration site will be selected in western Washington and the entities involved will report back on the site’s effectiveness in increasing graduation rates for dependent youth by December 1, 2018.

Substitute bill:  The bill as amended does the following – Identifies that one condition that qualifies a youth to receive an educational liaison is when all parental rights are terminated.  The identified educational liaison will be included in the health and education order entered at the shelter care hearing.  The status of the educational liaison will be updated at the shelter care hearing and all subsequent review hearings.  The presumption that the youth’s parent is the educational liaison is specified in the bill.  DSHS may permit a child to transfer from her or his school of origin if it is in the child’s best interest to transfer schools.  Provisions relating to school transportation and immunizations have been removed.  Finally, multiple agencies are not required to develop a new reporting strategy or complete new evaluations, but rather, the annual report completed by the education and data center must include new measures relating to the educational outcomes of youth in foster care. 

Appropriations amendment:  The provision that requires the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to contract with a nongovernmental entity to establish a demonstration site, subject to specifically appropriated funds, is removed.

Ways and Means amendment:  Changes the entity responsible for analyzing and reporting data on educational outcomes for foster children from the education data center to a university-based child welfare research entity.