The following information should be provided to you by the placing social worker. Obtaining this knowledge prior to school enrollment will help to ensure the most appropriate and immediate school placement:
- What school does my child attend and what grade is he/she in? This information will be provided by the social worker upon placement. Additionally, the social worker routinely gives foster parents an updated Health and Education Passport which provides important school and medical history.
- What is my child's educational history? How many schools has my child attended? Are there concerns that have not been addressed? Is this child in an appropriate school setting? Talking to a principal, counselor or teacher from the child's current school upon placement will provide enormous insight into your child's history and needs, and help you make better decisions about what can be done to support your child in school.
- Is it in my child's best interest to remain at their current school? Imagine being a child and not only having to adjust to a new home, but also a new school and making new friends all at once! Allowing a child to continue at their school until the end of the school year can often make the new home adjustment a little easier. It is wise to consider the option of allowing them to stay if it is in the child's best interest, even if it is inconvenient. This is also a right protected under AB490. Make sure to consult with the child's educational rights holder, the educational liaison and the youth before making educational placement changes.
- Does my child have special education services? There is a significantly higher incidence of children in foster care requiring special education services. Request that the school provide you documents that address special education services (an IEP) that are in place. In some cases, children may need a psycho-educational assessment if the child has learning or emotional disabilities. Please refer to the section about special education in the guidebook for further information.
- Who holds educational rights on my child? Unless the Court has specifically limited the rights of the parents to make educational decisions on your child, then the decision-making remains with the parent. If the birth parent is not demonstrating the interest or ability to make competent decisions for their child, please discuss this with the child's social worker.
- Do I have all relevant school documents? Social workers and educational liaisons can assist in requesting documents from a child's previous school. Transcripts, behavioral reports, attendance reports, and special education documents will all provide a good snapshot of how the child is doing, and provide information in placing the child with the right teacher or program. Immunizations (and sometimes birth certificate) are also eventually required when a child transfers to a new school. Missing school records should not delay their enrollment. If you encounter any delays, please contact your San Mateo County Office of Education Educational Liaisons for immediate support.
- Did my child receive all credit due from previous school(s)? If in high school, did my child receive partial credits per AB490 foster youth education law from all schools attended? Many foster youth lose semesters and even years from transferring schools when these credits aren't issued and calculated into the next schools transcript.