School Enrollment Procedures

Getting your child enrolled quickly

If it is determined that enrollment in a new school is in a child's best interest, or necessary for other reasons, these steps will help facilitate your child's enrollment into school immediately.

  1. Contact your local school district Attendance & Welfare Office immediately to determine where the enrollment process begins. (Note: most elementary districts don't have an Attendance & Welfare Office. If they are enrolling in an elementary school, the school secretary can answer most questions and help get the child enrolled.) Some districts allow you to enroll directly at the local school, while others require you to submit documents to the school district while determining what school has space for your child.
  2. Documents helpful to take with you to enroll your child:
    • In some cases, you will need to show a letter from your social worker placing the child with you.
    • Transcript or grade report cards from most current school
    • Immunization records (and in some cases, birth certificate)
    • Special Education documents (IEP, psychological report)
    • Proof of residence; mortgage document or rental agreement, pay stub, PG & E bill, phone bill

If they do not enroll your child immediately

The law requires the school district to immediately enroll your child in school, regardless of missing documents including immunizations. If your child has special education services, it is customary to allow a day for the school to determine appropriate placement. If you find the school district presenting barriers to immediate enrollment, remind them of the foster youth laws. Contact the foster youth liaisons listed in this manual if you are experiencing delays or difficulties.

Should I tell the new school that my child is a foster youth?

Many foster parents find that letting the school know that their new student is a foster placement is helpful in identifying resources within the school to support their child.

Applying for Free Lunch

All foster youth have the right to free lunch (and sometimes breakfast) at their school. Please ask for the application during the enrollment process, and ask how this works at your child's particular school.


Transporting your child to and from school can be challenging for a foster parent, especially when the school is some distance away. The school district may be responsible to transport in the case of homeless youth, and/or if they qualify for special education. It is a collaborative effort between caretakers, school districts and agencies to provide transportation for foster youth to school. Please contact your social worker or an advocate if you are having difficulty establishing how transportation will be provided, especially if you anticipate it will affect home placement issues.

What about tutoring and After-School Programs?

Consult with the school directly to see what is available on-site both during and after school. Tutoring is available at most school sites or in an on-site program provided by another agency. Should you require after-school programs for your child, talk to your principal or counselor about available options. Please check with your social worker about after-school program fees; in some situations, a program may be willing to give a reduction in fees or have scholarships for foster youth. Should you need help finding programs for your youth, employ a social worker, advocate or educational liaison to assist you.

My child is already enrolled in the appropriate school when they are placed. Is there anything I need to do?

If your child will be staying at their current school, the foster parent must go to the district office and change the home address of the student. That way you will be notified in case of emergency, and receive other important school information including grades, conference notices, etc.