This policy guide provides information on the educational rights of DCFS-supervised children and instructions on how to ensure their educational needs are met.
Table of Contents
- Child/Youth Educational Rights
- Educational Resources and Support Programs
- School of Origin (SOO)
- Immediate Enrollment Requirement
- Best Interest Determination (BID)
- Public School Preference
- School Coursework Credit (Full/Partial Credit)
- California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE)
- Early Care and Early Education Services
- School Attendance Review Board (SARB)
- Suspension, Expulsion, and Involuntary Transfers
- Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Early Childhood Education Division (ECED) (0 – 5) Years Old)
- Managing Cases to Achieve Successful Educational Outcomes
- Continuing at or Changing Enrollment at the School of Origin (SOO)
- Preparing for a Hearing Regarding a Child/Youth's School of Origin (SOO) after Placement
- Transferring Students and Requesting a School Records Transfer
- Determining School Credit, Appropriate Coursework Exemptions, and College Admission/Transfer Opportunities
- Receiving a Referral Regarding a Child who is Not Attending School
- Responding to a Child's Referral to SARB
This policy guide was updated from the 7/01/14 version to address Assembly Bill (AB) 490 (2003-2004), AB 740 (2021-2022), AB 1055 (2021-2022), Senate Bill (SB) 12 (2017-2018), SB 512 (2021-2022), SB 532 and All County Letter (ACL) 18-104; to update and streamline information about Student Attendance Review Boards; to add information about School of Origin (SOO), Best Interest Determination (BID), the Education Specialist Referral System and the Los Angeles Education Passport System; and to remove the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) requirement for high school graduation.
Educational Resources and Support Programs
The Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), in partnership with DCFS, manages an electronic data sharing system, known as the Los Angeles Education Passport System (EPS). EPS provides academic records for children with open DCFS court cases enrolled in LA County public school districts and some public charter schools, and can help streamline communication between CSWs and school districts.
Additionally, the following resources may be helpful to meet the educational needs of the child/youth:
- Foster Youth Services Coordinating Programs (FYSCPs) – administered by the California Department of Education (CDE) through county offices of education (COEs), FYSCPs provide support services to foster children who suffer the traumatic effects of displacement from family, schools and multiple placements in foster care.
- Foster Youth Tutoring Resources (through the Los Angeles County Office of Education FYSCP)
- School Attendance Review Board (SARB)
- Special education services
- Appointment of Responsible Adult or Educational Surrogate Parent for the Purpose of Making Educational Decisions
- Health and Education Passport (HEP)
- The JV-225, Your Child's Health and Education form
- Educational Specialists – professional educators under contract with DCFS, located in each regional office, who provide guidance and advocacy to address the challenging educational needs of youth with open DCFS cases (court or voluntary).
- DCFS Education Section works with community agencies and school partners to minimize the barriers to collaboration, share data, facilitate school-of-origin transportation and improve learning opportunities and academic outcomes for foster children.
- Educational Foster Youth Liaisons who, by law, are employed by each school district to ensure that the educational rights of foster youth are honored and that all legally required educational services are provided.
- Assisting Youth Pursuing Post-Secondary Education: Key Dates & Deadlines for Applying & Attending
- The Financial Aid Guide for California Foster Youth
- Foster Youth Educational Planning Guide
- Case Management Check‐In Guide: A Chronological Guide to Assist Case Managers Working with College Students
- Community College Career and Technical Education Programs
- California College Pathways Student Website
- John Burton Advocates for Youth
- The Alliance for Children’s Rights Foster Youth Education Toolkit and Court Companion to the Foster Youth Education Toolkit
- School transportation with HopSkipDrive
School of Origin (SOO)
“School of origin” (SOO) is defined in the Education Code as the school that the foster child/youth attended when permanently housed, or the school in which the foster child/youth was last enrolled. For DCFS-supervised children/youth, this refers to any school that the child or youth attended prior to detention, was enrolled in prior to replacement, or attended within the immediately preceding fifteen (15) months, to which the youth/nonminor dependent (NMD) feels connected.
The educational liaison, in consultation with and with the agreement of the foster child/youth and the ERH, shall determine, in the best interests of the foster child/youth, the school that shall be deemed the SOO. The child’s ERH makes the final decision about whether attending the SOO is in the youth’s best interests. A youth may not enroll in a new school (and must remain in their SOO) until a Best Interest Determination (BID) is made by the ERH.
- Through the duration of the court's jurisdiction or the duration of the voluntary placement agreement.
- Upon removal from their home and/or , and
- Until the end of the academic year when the court's jurisdiction is terminated (for children in elementary and middle school) or until they graduate (for children in high school).
In order to facilitate the child/youth remaining in their SOO, the CSW assesses whether the caregiver can provide transportation via the Education Travel Reimbursement program or if the school district can make arrangements for transportation to the SOO. Please refer to Education Travel Reimbursement for further information.
If an ERH makes a determination that the youth should stay in their SOO and the school district and/or CSW still does not believe it is in the best interest of the child after the BID, the school district and/or CSW may consult with the Education & Development Section for assistance at Youth.Education.Support@dcfs.lacounty.gov or the Children’s Law Center (CLC) Education Team at email@example.com. The CLC Education team may reach out to the ERH to discuss the issues, work through specific cases with school districts, or help assign a co-ERH to a case if an ERH is unable to be found.
The child/youth may elect to continue to attend the SOO for the remainder of the school year, even when jurisdiction is terminated. This wish must be communicated through their ERH under the following circumstances:
- A child/youth is placed outside of their SOO's attendance area.
- There is a pending resolution for a school placement dispute.
- If the child/youth's attorney, their ERH, or the court is opposed to the removal, after their receipt of the JV-539, a hearing may be scheduled.
- The child/youth's attorney must discuss the removal with the child/youth and the ERH.
- The child/youth's attorney or the ERH has two (2) days from the receipt of the JV-539 to request a hearing.
Immediate Enrollment Requirement
LEAs and school districts are required, , to immediately enroll all DCFS-supervised children/youth regardless of whether the school has received a child/youth's school records, immunization records, or other documents required for enrollment. Prior to any school changes, a Best Interest Determination (BID) must occur.
CSWs and LEAs are jointly responsible for the timely transfer of children/youth and school records when a change of schools is in the children/youth's best interest. as determined by their ERH. To facilitate such transfers, CSWs provide the DCFS 1399, Notification to School of Pupil's Foster Care Status to caregivers whenever:
- Placing or replacing a child/youth
- The DCFS 1399 form (or other means of notification) must be provided ten (10) days prior to the placement change for students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and within one (1) day of the decision to make the placement change for general education students.
- Requesting a transfer of a student and their records from the SOO to a new school, or
- Notifying a school that a child has returned to home of parent (HOP)
CSWs are encouraged to provide contact information, including the ERH’s contact information to the school, to facilitate education decision-making.
The school to which a child/youth is transferring is required to ensure the immunization of a DCFS-supervised child/youth when there is no record of them being immunized.
Best Interest Determination (BID)
Whenever a school becomes aware that a foster youth will be changing placements, a determination must be made regarding whether or not it is in the youth’s best interest to remain in their SOO or whether a school move should occur. Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015, it is assumed that the child’s best interest is to remain in their SOO in the event of an out-of-home placement or a change in placement, unless otherwise determined. The BID is made based on a number of factors, including:
- Preferences of the child, the child’s parent(s), or ERH
- The child’s attachment to the school, including meaningful relationships with staff and peers
- Placement of the child’s sibling(s)
- Influence of the school climate on the child, including safety
- The availability and quality of the services in the school to meet the child’s educational and socioemotional needs
- History of school transfers and how they have impacted the child
- How the length of the commute would impact the child, based on the child’s developmental stage
- Whether the child is a student with a disability who is receiving special education and related aids and services and, if so, the availability of those required services in a school other than the SOO
- Whether the child is an English learner and is receiving language services, and, if so, the availability of those required services in a school other than the SOO, consistent with Title VI and the Equal Education Opportunity Act
Because of the important information CSWs possess regarding a youth’s placement stability and case status, they may be invited by school district liaisons to attend BID meetings –̶̶ after which the CSW and school district liaison should discuss the outcome of these meetings to determine next steps for SOO transportation.
In the following circumstances, the SOO will be determined by the ERH in consultation with the school district's Foster Youth Educational Liaison and in consultation and agreement with the child/youth:
- The school a DCFS-supervised child/youth attended when permanently housed is different from the school they were last enrolled in, or their local school of residence in their current placement
- The school the child attended at their last placement is different from their local school of residence in their current placement, or
- The DCFS-supervised child/youth feels connected to another school that they attended within the immediately preceding fifteen (15) months.
Federal child welfare law requires the foster youth’s case plan to include measures to ensure their educational stability (which must be considered when making placement changes), and must include assurances that the child welfare agency has coordinated with the LEA to ensure that the child remains in their SOO, unless it is not in the child’s best interest as determined by the ERH. These decisions require collaboration and coordination between the placement agency (child welfare agency or probation), the ERH, the student when appropriate, and the LEA.
Public School Preference
DCFS-supervised children/youth may only attend a nonpublic school (NPS) under the following circumstance:
- There is a current and valid IEP signed by the ERHrequiring an NPS placement.
A residential placement facility, Short-Term Therapeutic Residential Program (STRTP) or group home is legally prohibited from requiring a child/youth to attend a nonpublic school as a condition for placement. The County Counsel should be contacted immediately if this is encountered. Youth with IEPs have the right to education in the least restrictive environment. Even if they have an IEP for an NPS, it should be considered whether an NPS outside of the STRTP is appropriate as a less restrictive environment for the child/youth before considering an NPS on-site.
A placement may not temporarily enroll a child/youth in a NPS while awaiting the outcome of an IEP. If a child/youth does not have a valid signed and consented IEP from the ERH, they must remain enrolled in his/her SOO, whenever possible, or be immediately enrolled in the local public school.
Child/Youth Educational Rights
DCFS-supervised children/youth (including those subject to a voluntary placement agreement) have the right to the same educational opportunities as all students, consistent with their age and developmental level. A child/youth's rights include, but are not limited to:
- Attendance at school every day, for the full school day in the least restrictive academic setting.
- An Educational Rights Holder (ERH) that is willing and able to actively participate in key decisions regarding their education.
- Access to academic resources, services, extracurricular, cultural, and enrichment activities.
- Minimal disruption to school attendance and to educational stability, including consideration of school stability when locating a new home/placement for a child/youth.
- Continued enrollment in their school of origin, unless the ERH (with input from the child/youth) decides to change schools, following a change in the child/youth’splacement.
- Matriculation with their peers.
- Refer to the following table based on the type of school a child/youth is transitioning to:
School Transitioning to
Required Local Educational Agency (LEA) Actions
School between grade levels
Middle school or high school
in another school district
School Coursework Credit (Full/Partial Credit)
LEAs and school districts to calculate, issue, and accept credit for full or partial coursework satisfactorily completed by a DCFS-supervised child/youth while attending a public school, juvenile court school, nonpublic, or nonsectarian school. Schools are legally prohibited from lowering grades based on placement or court-related absences.
If a DCFS-supervised youth, in the eleventh (11th) or twelfth (12th) grade changes schools, the school district is required to offer an exemption to them from all additional, school district governing board requirements, in addition to statewide required courses. These exemptions will not be offered, however, if the school district finds that the youth is reasonably able to complete the additional district graduation requirements within four (4) years of high school. The ERH, with input from the youth, may decide whether to accept the exemption, waive the exemption, or defer their decision to a later time. The school district must consult with the youth and their ERH about the impact that the decision to accept graduation under statewide criteria will have on their postsecondary options, as well as transfer opportunities and credit recovery options.
- Notify the youth
- Notify, as appropriate, the youth's ERH
- Provide the youth information about transfer opportunities available through California Community Colleges.
The youth has the right to remain in school for a fifth (5th) year to complete either the statewide or school district graduation requirements if their ERH determines it is in their best interest. For special education students, the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires the provision of special education through age twenty-one (21), while California state law allows special education students who turn twenty-two (22) years of age during the months of January through June to continue their participation for the remainder of that school year.
California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE)
With the passage of AB 830 in 2017, California public school students are no longer required to pass the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) to earn a high school diploma. It is important to ensure that youth have basic math and reading skills before graduating, which may involve seeking support for basic skills through tutoring, evidence-based remedial support programs, or special education services for those who are eligible.
Early Care and Early Education Services
Enrolling children in early care and education opportunities helps ensure that they are ready for school and are better prepared to meet their developmental milestones. It is strongly encouraged that DCFS-supervised children who are five (5) years of age or younger be enrolled in an appropriate early care or early education program.
Early Head Start (0 – 36 Months)
Early Head Start gives priority enrollment to the following types of individuals and families:
- Families of toddlers/infants with disabilities
- Low-income families with infants and toddlers
- Low-income, pregnant women
Early Head Start services include:
- Developmentally appropriate curriculum
- Group socialization activities for parents and children
- Home visits
- Job referrals for parents
- Linkages for full-day and year-round care
- Parent education
- Parent involvement activities
- Screenings and assessments to identify developmental delays or disabilities
- Support services for pregnant women
Head Start (3 – 5 Years Old)
Head Start programs provide services to prepare children for a school environment. Head Start Early Childhood Education Programs are federally funded and serve children three (3) and four (4) years of age. , and not the Regional Center, is the grantee for most Early Head Start and Head Start services in Los Angeles County.
All DCFS children with open cases qualify, have priority, and if selected may receive services at no cost for Head Start programs. Services available through Head Start Programs may include:
- Daily partial (three and a half (3.5) hour) or full-day programs, Monday through Friday
- Families in need of full day programs should consider combining a partial day Head Start program with a daycare or childcare provider.
- Breakfast, lunch and snacks
- Special needs screening for speech therapy, developmental milestones, etc.
- Medical, dental, hearing, vision, and behavioral screenings
- Literacy development with an early education emphasis on school reading
- IEP development for each eligible child
- Conferences at least two (2) times a year with caregivers to be conducted, if possible, in the child's home
- Assistance with family/child transitions or transfers to school or other Head Start programs
- Field trips
- Family support services
- Programs for teen parents with children between the ages of eighteen (18) and twenty-four (24) months
- Connection to family resources and community assistance
Los Angeles Universal Pre-School (LAUP) (4+ Years Old)
provides children age four (4) and their families with voluntary, high-quality preschool in Los Angeles County regardless of family's income. It is an independent public benefit corporation that is funded by First 5 LA.
All DCFS-supervised children with open cases qualify, have priority, and if selected may receive services at no cost for the following LAUP programs:
- Partial and full day programs, Monday through Friday, year round depending upon the location
- Families in need of full day programs should consider combining a partial day Head Start program with a daycare or childcare provider
- Special needs screening for speech therapy, developmental milestones, etc.
- Literacy development with an emphasis on early education for school readiness
- Family support services
- Excellent and consistent adult-to-child classroom ratios
- Parent/Caregiver involvement activities
- Various learning environments
School Attendance Review Board (SARB)
The School Attendance Review Board (SARB) is composed of representatives from various youth-serving agencies and
is responsible for identifying attendance, enrollment, and behavioral problems and following-up with classroom, school site, and district level interventions, including referrals to local community resources.
To maximize attendance and reduce school dropout, the SARB panel may initiate referrals to tutoring, mental health services, facilitate a change in school/program placement, assuming the child’s ERH determines a school change is in the child’s best interests, and coordinate any other interventions deemed necessary.
The SARB panel may also refer chronic attendance and/or behavior problems to the (DATMP) or Abolish Chronic Truancy (ACT) Program (for elementary school children) for further assistance.
- SARB cases are referred to the Juvenile Courts only after the SARB and the DATMP recommendations have been violated.
SARB panels also request assistance from other county agencies and programs, when needed.
DCFS provides supportive services by collaborating with the SARB panel to develop plans and strategies to maximize attendance and to reduce school dropout. DCFS staff members contribute to the identification of child safety issues. DCFS participates on SARB panels as part of a multi-disciplinary team and discussion of pertinent subject information is allowed pursuant to the California Code. If a family has a history with DCFS, DCFS must maintain the confidentiality of that history.
There are eighty (80) school districts in Los Angeles County and the SARB process varies somewhat based on the size of the individual district and their staffing.
The process most often begins with the School Attendance Review Team (SART) and the School Success Team (SST) located at the school. The SART focuses on children who have attendance problems. The SST addresses children's behavior, attendance, and academic problems. These Teams may proceed to the district-level Resource Panel if efforts to work with a child and their family are unsuccessful. The Resource Panel forum discusses former attempts to work with the family and identifies possible interventions. During this Panel, DCFS involvement is determined, and the case-carrying CSW is identified.
If necessary, a SARB meeting may be scheduled by the Resource Panel.
All SARB hearings are formal hearings held pursuant to the California Education code and are confidential. The case-carrying CSW and minor’s attorney may be notified of the hearing by the school district. The official parties in the hearing are the School District and the parent, or ERH, if the parents’ educational rights have been limited by the Court. Only the ERH can extend an invitation to any third parties, including the CSW, to attend the hearing.
Referral Process to the SARB
All concerns relating to a child's attendance, enrollment, and/or behavior problems in public schools should be addressed to the school district office where the child was or is currently enrolled.
Concerns of excessive absenteeism, tardiness, or habitual truancy are reported to a Pupil Services and Attendance (PSA) or Child Welfare & Attendance (CWA) counselor who serves the school where the child is enrolled. The PSA and CWA counselors work with the Dependency and Juvenile Court Liaisons when a child has an active case in either court and has been referred to the SARB.
The SARB referral process may vary for children who are attending schools outside of the Los Angeles County. The administrative staff at the child's school should be contacted for more information if the school if out-of-county.
The SARB referral process occurs in the following order:
- The referral process may be initiated by any one (1) of the following individuals, entities, or situations:
- A concern called in to the school district's office where the child was or is currently enrolled
- A CSW or Probation Officer
- A teacher who brings the concern to the attention of the school PSA/CWA
- The family who self-refers
- The PSA/CWA counselor who takes action based on a child's numerous absences
- A PSA/CWA counselor is assigned to work with the child and their family.
- The PSA/CWA counselor holds a conference and develops a plan of action with the family to resolve the poor attendance and improve academic achievement.
- The family signs a contract indicating their agreement with the plan of action.
- PSA/CWA counselors provide preventive services at the local school level by referring to health, psychological, academic, and community resources, based the child and their family's needs.
- The plan of action is implemented.
- If the child continues to exhibit poor attendance after the school has provided intervention services, the case is referred to the SARB.
- The SARB recommends alternatives to legal action to the family at the hearing.
- If the family does not follow the SARB's recommendation, or the SARB panel has reason to believe that all appropriate interventions have failed, the case is referred to the DATMP.
Some SARB panels cover more than one (1) school district and the duties of the chairperson vary based on their individual organization. In some panels, the SARB chairperson assists school personnel and other PSA/CWA counselors in selecting and preparing cases for the SARB board. The SARB chairperson facilitates the SARB meetings and helps develop a plan of action to ensure implementation of the SARB’s recommendations. They also ensure that all district-wide and local district remedial measures are attempted through discussion at the local Resource Panel. If necessary, they can be called as expert witnesses in the mediation or prosecution of the compulsory school attendance violation laws.
Suspension, Expulsion, and Involuntary Transfers
Assembly Bill (AB) 740 requires LEAs to provide written notification to a child's ERH, attorney, CSW, and tribal social worker (if applicable) of their intent to suspend or expel a youth, transfer a youth to a continuation school, or to remove the student from a charter school. The bill provides these individuals with the same rights as a child’s parent or guardian to receive a notice of suspension, expulsion, involuntary transfer, manifestation determination meeting, and other documents and related information. It also gives CSWs the ability to request a meeting or hearing on the suspension, transfer to a continuation school, removal or expulsion.
Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Early Childhood Education Division (ECED) (0 – 5) Years Old)
The of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) provides quality, early education experiences to children (infant to five (5)) to prepare them for school. Most ECED programs are free or low cost to DCFS families and operated at or near elementary schools.
Accredited Child Care Programs (0 -13 Years Old)
Child care programs that provide quality learning environments are usually accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) or an affiliate organization. The is the Los Angeles County accreditation program.
Child care is provided through DCFS, and many children and families qualify and receive priority for free or low cost care based on their income and/or family situation. DCFS-supervised children in child care programs also generally receive a higher financial assistance level rating. Parents may be encouraged to contact their local to enroll in child care services.
Managing Cases to Achieve Successful Educational Outcomes
Case-carrying CSWs are required to assist DCFS-supervised children/youth in achieving successful educational outcomes as follows:
- Knowing how to locate and access education resources
- Communicating with the school/district as needed; this may include:
- Submitting the DCFS 1399 to the school of origin whenever a child/youth is removed from their home or changes out-of-home placement to the SOO
- Attending meetings as needed with the school district foster youth education liaison to discuss school of origin rights, best interest determinations (BID), academic progress, behavioral needs, etc.
- Understanding the child/youth's developmental and educational needs and challenges
- Ensuring that the youth has an ERH at all times, who is willing and able to participate in their education.
- Identifying and advocating for appointment of a new ERH or co-holder of educational rights when the current ERH is unavailable/unwilling to make educational decisions
- Addressing whether the child has an active ERH in each court report
- Helping to refer the child/youth and caregiver/family to appropriate services.
- Encouraging the child/youth and their caregiver/family to be accountable for the child/youth's educational achievement.
- Discussing postsecondary education with the youth, and/or encouraging the youth to use Child and Family Team Meetings as a method to develop an appropriate plan for postsecondary education support
- When making placement decisions, ensuring that school stability and academic progress are taken into account, including proximity of potential placements to the SOO, school stability and documenting all information related to educational stability in the Case Plan..
- When a child/youth is transferring schools:
- Ensuring that a BID that supports the school transfer has occurred prior to the transfer
- Notifying the school that the child/youth will be leaving and that the youth needs to be disenrolled, including obtaining necessary records including partial and full credits and IEPs, as applicable
- Ensuring that:
- The child/youth is immediately enrolled in their new school of residence.
- The new school has all records and current contact information for the ERH, and
- The child/youth is enrolled in the least restrictive environment, regardless of missing credits, or history of disciplinary or behavioral difficulties (unless there has been a formal expulsion, the IEP requires a different school placement, or the ERH has agreed in writing to a different placement.)
- Ensuring that:
- Education plans, including the , are developed for the child/youth
- Transportation plans are developed when distance to a school is a barrier, including when SOO transportation is required.
- For youth sixteen (16) years of age and older who express interest in pursuing postsecondary education, the case plan identifies an individual or individuals who will assist youth with applications for such education, including career, trade, vocational and technical education, and related financial aid
- Examples of trade/vocational education include, but are not limited to, Licensed Vocational Nursing, cosmetology, electrician, plumbing, computer programming, pharmacy technician, automotive repair, culinary arts, graphic design, fashion design, welding, carpentry, masonry
- Keeping the parent/caregiver involved as much as possible by:
- Discussing the child/youth's educational progress regularly with them
- Providing parents/caregivers with current educational information when a child/youth is placed
- Helping to build bridges between parents, caregivers, ERHs, and schools
- Attending the child/youth's or IEP meeting, as applicable
- Intervening when there is a problem at a child/youth's school
Continuing at or Changing Enrollment at the School of Origin (SOO)
- Discuss with the ERH and the DCFS-supervised child/youth whether it is in the best interest of the child/youth to remain in the SOO or transfer to the school of residence. Consider the following:
- The importance of educational stability
- The right of the child to remain in their SOO until a BID is made
- The time of academic year
- Number of previous school changes
- The least restrictive educational setting possible to achieve academic progress; and
- Length of commute and the youth’s developmental needs.
- Information regarding transportation options and youth and caregiver eligibility can be found in Educational Travel Reimbursement
- If there are any barriers to the child/youth remaining in their SOO, contact the following individuals:
- If the LEA Education Liaison recommends a waiver, as allowed , of the child/youth's right to attend the SOO after obtaining a written agreement from the ERH:
- Obtain a copy of the Liaison's written statement, that includes the basis for this recommendation, as well as the ERH's agreement.
- Attach a copy of the statement to the next court report.
- If it is determined that the child/youth's change in placement, including both initial placement and replacements, will result in the child/youth being removed from the SOO, notify the following individuals:
- The child/youth's attorney via , Notice of Child's Attorney RE: Child's Case Status, within one (1) court day of the decision to change the home placement.
- The court via an Ex Parte Application and order, within one (1) court day.
- The ERH via telephone (or voicemail), email, or in-person. Only notify the ERH by first class mail if their telephone number or an email address is not known.
- If the child/youth receives special education services, notify the special education local plan area (SELPA) of the sending and receiving schools of the intended placement change ten (10) days prior to the planned removal from the SOO, as required .
- If ten (10) days' notice is not possible (e.g. an emergency placement), notify the LEA or school district within one (1) court day.
Preparing for a Hearing Regarding a Child/Youth's School of Origin (SOO) after Placement
- When a hearing has been scheduled regarding a child/youth who has changed placements and who wishes to stay at their SOO, provide an Interim Report at least two (2) court days after the , Request for Hearing Regarding Child's Access to Services, is filed.
- Include all of the following information in the Interim Review Report:
- Notification method to all the involved parties and dates of notice
- Details of any dispute regarding the child/youth remaining in their SOO
- Whether the child/youth:
- Continues in the SOO;
- Was properly enrolled in the new school;
- Has an IEP or is in the process of being assessed for special education services;
- Is receiving early intervention services[ages infant (0) - three (3)];
- Is receiving Regional Center services or is in the process of being assessed for eligibility. When appropriate, consent to and request a copy of the Life Quality Assessment from the Regional Center and attach the copy to the next court report;
- Should be placed in a more restrictive educational placement.
- Whether the new school will:
- Affect the child/youth's educational stability; or
- Have educational support systems similar to the SOO.
- Distance from the SOO and the new school as well as any information or issues regarding transportation.
- Written statements from:
- The ERH, LEA Education Foster Youth Liaison, parent/legal guardian, and all other appropriate parties regarding the educational placements that best meet the child/youth's needs; and
- DCFS, confirming the child/youth was not segregated due to their status as a dependent.
- Recommendation(s) as to whether the educational rights of the parent/legal guardian should be limited.
- The child/youth's educational and developmental achievements and challenges, if any.
- If a child/youth has special needs:
- Include information regarding their special needs or learning disabilities;
- Provide information on the special education services the child/youth is receiving.
Transferring Students and Requesting a School Records Transfer
- If the ERH decides to transfer a child/youth to a new school, immediately notify the SOO in writing.
- Work with the new school and care provider to ensure:
- The ERH contact information is accurate and provided to the new school in a timely manner
- The transfer and immediate enrollment of child/youth in the new school in the least restrictive environment;
- Any barriers are eliminated that would prevent a child/youth from having the same educational rights and the opportunity to meet the same academic standards
- Enrollment in the same or similar classes
- Engagement in extracurricular activities
- When immunization records are not immediately available, make every effort to assist the school in locating them for the child/youth to avoid duplication of records or duplication of immunizations.
- Request educational records for the child/youth using the DCFS 1726, School Records Request.
- Document the basis for changing schools (or measures taken to ensure educational stability) in the Education Notebook, the Case Plan, and the next court report.
Determining School Credit, Appropriate Coursework Exemptions, and College Admission/Transfer Opportunities
- Verify with the new school that all earned credits have been issued by the sending school and received and accepted by the receiving school. If a DCFS-supervised child/youth transfers schools during a semester, they are entitled to receive full or partial coursework credits for coursework satisfactorily completed.
- Contact the LEA Liaison for Foster Youth if a child/youth does not receive check-out grades or credits, including partial credits from a former school.
- If full or partial coursework credits have not been applied towards the child/youth's graduation requirements, consult with the Education Specialist and/or the DCFS Education & Development Section staff by submitting a referral through the Education Specialist Referral System (ESRS) on LA Kids.
- For a DCFS-supervised youth in eleventh (11th) or twelfth (12th) grade who transfers from another school district or between high schools within the same school district, advocate for eligibility for the appropriate exemptions (e.g., graduation under AB 216). Ensure the ERH and the child/youth are made aware of the implications of accepting different options, and that they understand it is an ERH’s decision whether such graduation is in the youth’s best interests.
- If any exemptions or waived requirements will affect a child/youth's ability to gain admission to college:
- Ensure the school district notifies the child/youth and the ERH;
- Advise the child/youth and the ERH that graduating while using an exemption does not necessarily mean the child/youth has completed the coursework required to apply to a California State University, a school in the University of California system, or another four (4) college/university.
- For youth sixteen (16) years of age or older (including NMDs) who want to pursue postsecondary education (i.e., college, university or trade/vocational school), help them to identify someone to assist them with applications for school and related financial aid, such as the ERH, resource parent, relative caregiver, high school counselor, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), family member, guardian, mentor, CSW or other adult.
- List this identified person on the case plan.
- List this identified person and their contact information, and the ERH, on the TILP.
- If, at any point in the future, a youth/NMD who previously did not want to pursue postsecondary education expresses that they now wish to do so, update the case plan to identify the selected adult responsible for assisting the youth or NMD with applications for postsecondary education and related financial aid.
- Ensure that the school district provides the child/youth with information about transfer and other opportunities available through the California State University system and the California Community Colleges.
- SB 512 (2021) requires the California State University and each community college district to grant priority in any existing priority enrollment systems to certain foster youth or former foster youth whose dependency was established or continued by the court on or after the youth’s thirteenth (13th) birthday and to certain homeless and former homeless youth.
- The Cooperating Agencies Foster Youth Educational Support Program for community college students offers eligible current and former foster youth support and services that may include help with books and supplies, transportation, tutoring, food and emergency housing.
- Assess the youth's progress towards obtaining a high school diploma.
- Inform the school where the child/youth is enrolled of any placement changes, court appearance dates, and court ordered related absences.
- Review the child/youth's attendance and grade records to ensure that a child/youth is and was not penalized.
Receiving a Referral Regarding a Child who is Not Attending School
Child Protection Hotline (CPH) CSW Responsibilities
- Refer the reporting party to the school district office where the child is enrolled, provided that there are no allegations of abuse or neglect being reported.
- If there are allegations of child abuse or neglect, create a referral per Child Protection Hotline (CPH) procedure.
- Advise the reporting party that they need to provide the following information to make the report to the school:
- The name of the school where the child was last enrolled;
- If the party does not know the name of the school where the child was last enrolled, they may contact the student locator at (213) 241-2450 for children who last attended LAUSD schools.
- If the child may have been enrolled in a school district other than LAUSD, the reporting party should be directed to contact the administrative office of that school district.
- The child's full name and date of birth.
- The name of the school where the child was last enrolled;
- If there is an open referral or case with DCFS, document it by generating an "Information to CSW" report.
- If there is not an open referral or case with DCFS, document it by generating a "Consultation" report.
Responding to a Child's Referral to SARB
- Attend the SARB meetings and conferences on behalf of a child, and advocate for them at the meeting.
- Request a copy of the SARB contract at the SARB meeting. If you are not at the meeting, complete and mail the , Request for the Juvenile Court to Limit Parental Rights to Make Educational Decisions for Minor to all appropriate parties.
- Inform the court about the child's progress on the SARB's recommendations.
- Document the appropriate information in the Education Provider Notebook and in the Health and Education Passport.
- Complete a referral for Education Specialist Services via ESRS.
- Consult with the DCFS Regional Education Specialist if you encounter difficulties with the school district.
- Follow the recommendations made by the DCFS Regional Education Specialist, and document follow-up activities in the Contact Notebook. The individuals listed below may also be contacted for assistance when foster children have education related issues:
- Initial Case Plan
- Case Plan Update
- Recommendation that the court limit parent/legal guardian's educational decision making rights.
CSW Information/Consultation Call
DCFS 1727, Request for the Juvenile Court to Limit Parental Rights to Make Educational Decisions for Minor Health and Education Passport (HEP)
Ex Parte Application
DCFS 179, Parental Consent and Authorization for Medical Care and Release of Education Records
DCFS 1399, Notification to School of Pupil's Foster Care Status
DCFS 1726, School Records Request
DCFS 1727, Request for the Juvenile Court to Limit Parental Rights to Make Educational Decisions for Minor
DCFS 5402, Notice of Child's Attorney RE: Child's Case Status
Foster Youth Liaison Contacts:
JV-539, Request for Hearing Regarding Child's Access to Services
Referenced Policy Guides
0050-502.10, Child Protection Hotline (CPH)
0070-548.01, Child and Family Teams
0080-505.10, Youth Development: Transitional Independent Living Planning
0100-510.21, Voluntary Placement
All County Information Notice (ACIN) I-08-23 – Explains that the Transitional Independent Living Plan (TILP) has been revised, instructs counties that the new version of the form should be used effective immediately, and includes updated instructions for documenting postsecondary education support persons in CWS/CMS.
All County Letter (ACL) 12-70 – Defines "educational stability" and provides instruction on how to ensure it is part of the child/youth's Case Plan.
ACL 18-104 – Describes additional case plan documentation requirements for postsecondary education support in accordance with SB 12.
Assembly Bill (AB) 216 – Describes high school graduation requirements for foster youth.
AB 740 – Requires the foster youth’s educational rights holder (ERH), attorney and CSWs be provided notice of the intent to suspend, transfer or expel a youth and gives CSWs the ability to request a meeting on the suspension or expulsion.
AB 1055 – Extends existing educational rights and supports to dependent children in accordance with tribal law, as specified, and children who are the subject of voluntary placement agreements.
California Rules of Court (CROC) 5.651(e) – States, in part, that if a child/youth is in special education classes and must change schools, the court must find that DCFS notified the school district of the intended change ten (10) days prior to the intended removal from the school-of-origin.
Education Code (EDC) Section 48263 – States, in part, that habitually truant and habitually insubordinate students may be referred to the Student Attendance Review Board (SARB).
Education Code (EDC) Section 48645.5 – States that full or partial coursework satisfactorily completed by a student while attending public school, juvenile court school, or nonpublic, nonsectarian school must be accepted by the school district and county office of education. Addresses the requirement that schools provide diplomas to students who complete graduation requirements of their district of residence while being detained.
EDC Section 48850 – Requires each student be placed in the least restrictive educational program and have access to the academic resources, services, and extracurricular and enrichment activities that are available to all students, and must be based on the best interests of the child.
EDC Section 48852 – Requires DCFS to notify the local educational agency when a child is placed in out-of-home care and to provide available educational information on past education placements to facilitate prompt record transfer and appropriate education placement.
– Allow foster children to remain in the SOO until jurisdiction is terminated or, if terminated, until the end of the academic school year. Requires that the foster child have the benefit of matriculating with their peers under specifically stated circumstances. Addresses continuation in the SOO even during educational placement disputes as well as the waiver of the right to continue in the SOO. Specifies requirements for when an Educational Liaison is recommending a foster child be moved from the SOO. States the requirement for immediate enrollment of a student and provides a definition of "school of origin."
EDC Section 48856 – Requires that the local educational agency collaborate with the placing agency in the monitoring of a placement in a nonpublic, nonsectarian school or agency.
– States that both the LEA and DCFS are responsible for the proper and timely transfer of students in foster care between schools. Sets for the transfer notification requirements of DCFS to the LEA. Also states the LEA requirements for timely transfer of student's educational information and records to the new school. State that there may be no lowering of grades based on placement or court-related absences.
EDC Section 51225.1 – States the circumstances that a school district will and will not exempt a student in foster care.
EDC Section 51225.3 – Requires school districts to provide transferring foster children/youth with appropriate coursework exemptions, notifications of the impact this may have on their college admission, and information on the California Community Colleges.
EDC Section 56055 – State the circumstances under which a foster parent/caregiver may grant authority to consent to an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and/or other related services.
Health and Safety Code (HSC) Section 120341 – Requires that when a foster child is transferred to a new school, the new school must admit the foster child whose immunization records are not available or are missing. The new school still has an obligation to obtain the foster child’s immunization records pursuant to Section 48853.5 of the Education Code or to ensure the immunization of the foster child.
Senate Bill (SB) 12 – Requires the case plan, for a child who is sixteen (16) years of age or older and for a nonminor dependent (NMD), to identify the person or persons who are responsible for assisting the child or nonminor dependent with applications for postsecondary education and related financial aid, except as provided.
SB 512 – Modifies California’s priority public postsecondary education enrollment program for certain current or former foster youth (and certain homeless youth and former homeless youth) whose dependency was established or continued by the court on or after the youth’s sixteenth (16th) birthday to on or after the youth’s thirteenth (13th) birthday.
SB 532 – Details the option for certain pupils to remain in school for a fifth (5th) year if the local educational agency determines the pupil is reasonably able to complete the local educational agency’s graduation requirements within the pupil’s fifth (5th) year of high school.
Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) Section 16001.9 – States that all foster children have the right to attend school and to participate in extracurricular, cultural, and enrichment activities consistent with their age and developmental level with minimal disruption to their school attendance and educational stability.
– Permits educational agencies and institutions to disclose a student's education records without parental consent to a representative of a local child welfare agency when such an agency is legally responsible for the care and protection of the student.